Pennsylvania Life & Annuity: Stroke Impaired Risk Review

Although better surveillance and control of high blood pressure has led to a decreased incidence of stroke, it remains the third leading cause of death in the United States. Risk factors for stroke include the aforementioned hypertension, as well as diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking, heart disease, alcoholism and drug usage. Additionally, family history is a key risk factor. In women, migraines and the use of oral contraceptives are also implicated.

A stroke (also known as a cerebrovascular accident or CVA) is either a blockage or significant disturbance of blood flow to an area of the brain resulting in a permanent neurological effect or deficit. The diminished blood flow causes decreased oxygenation to the brain and either a motor or sensory deficit occurs, which persists for a period of time, often indefinitely. The deficit depends on which area of the brain is involved. A motor area may result in paralysis of a limb or an inability to speak. A mental deficit or weakness of a particular body area are also common presentations.

Strokes are generally defined by their causes. A lacunar infarct is a small lesion that most often occurs when blood pressure is so high as to interrupt circulation in a small blood vessel, or from poorly controlled diabetes. A cerebral infarction occurs when a small blood clot or fat or cholesterol embolus obstructs a vessel. Cardioemboli are small blood clots thrown from the circulation and pooling of blood in the heart. Strokes can also happen from hemorrhage, where a blood vessel bursts and there is bleeding into the brain. Read More

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