Cerebral Vascular Disease
Definition: Cerebral vascular disease refers to disorders of the blood vessels supplying the brain and spinal cord, which result in neurological symptoms and signs.
The term stroke or cerebral vascular accident refers to an event characterized by acute onset of these neurological signs and symptoms. The term ictus is used synonymously.
Demographics: Cerebrovascular disease is the third leading cause of death in the United States accounting for 10% of all deaths. Approximately 300,000 new strokes and 300,000 recurrent strokes occur per year in the United States. Age-adjusted incidence varies between 100 and 300 per 100,000 population depending on ethnic background and socioeconomic class. Stroke mortality in the United States began to decline in the early 1900s, and this decline continued throughout the 1900s. This decrease predated the development of antihypertensive drugs and of antibiotics, anticoagulants, and antiarrhythmic drugs. The explanation for the earlier years of decline is unclear; this may relate to improved hospital care of stroke patients, resulting in improved survival. The prevalence of stroke survivors in the United States is approximately 4,000,000 constituting a significant percentage of the disabled population.