Vim & Vigor - Fall 2018 - University of Virginia - 56

brain vessel blockage (ischemic stroke)
so she was given medication to dissolve the clot and then transferred to
UVA, which became the area's only
Comprehensive Stroke Center in 2017.

Finding ANSWERS

At UVA, experts uncovered the source of
Skylar's stroke: a tear (dissection) within
the wall of one of two main neck arteries.
"A cervical (neck) artery dissection was
previously thought to be very rare. But
it's not uncommon. Now we diagnose it
more because of advances in noninvasive
imaging," says Andy Southerland, MD,
Skylar's UVA neurologist and a leading expert on strokes in young adults.
He adds, "A cervical artery dissection is
associated with 1 in 5 strokes in people
under the age of 60."
When the body detects an artery tear,
it forms a blood clot at the site as part
of the natural healing process. This clot
can break off, travel downstream and
get lodged. Skylar's clot got stuck in
the artery-permanently etched on her
arm-that supplies blood to the part of
her brain that controls vision, equilibrium and coordination.
Skylar was prescribed blood thinners to make sure she wouldn't develop
another clot and the UVA Stroke Team
has kept her under a watchful eye. "A
neck artery tear sounds like the kind of
thing you need to repair with a procedure," says Dr. Southerland. "But what

we have learned is that neck arteries in
patients with dissection are relatively
fragile and repairing a tear can cause
further injury. The body will repair
a dissection on its own very well in a
matter of weeks or months."
Skylar was advised to avoid strenuous activity for several months. It's
also a good idea for anyone who has
had a neck artery dissection, Dr.
Southerland says, to avoid chiropractic
neck manipulations and other activities associated with excessive neck
movement, particularly during the
healing period.
On the one-year anniversary of her
stroke, Skylar hosted a happy hour and
reached a $500 fundraising goal for Dr.
Southerland's research (see below).
"Dr. Southerland is one of the most
knowledgeable people on artery dissection," Skylar says.
Because she received treatment to
dissolve her clot within a few hours
of the onset of symptoms, Skylar was
back home within 48 hours and didn't
need any physical or occupational
therapy. She credits her remarkable
recovery to her friend who encouraged
her to go to the hospital. "I'm so lucky
that I had a friend who recognized the
symptoms that something was seriously wrong. If I had been by myself,"
she adds, "I would have gone to sleep.
I didn't know a young adult could have
a stroke." ■
WEBSITE

Solving a Mystery
So why does a fit, healthy person like Skylar suddenly develop a tear
in a neck artery? No one knows for sure, but UVA neurologist Andy
Southerland, MD, is overseeing a research study to look for defects in a
person's genetic makeup. Skylar is among 250 people enrolled in the UVAled study that's part of an international effort to look for genetic factors
associated with cervical artery dissection and ischemic stroke patients
(CADISP). Learn more at cadisp.com.

56

FAL L 2 0 1 8

RAISING
AWARENESS
Like Skylar, Deb Owens was
young and fit when she had
a stroke in 2015. Since then,
the two have teamed up with
the UVA Stroke Care Team to
raise awareness and money for
stroke research. Each May during National Stroke Awareness
Month, Skylar and Deb (director of UVA Children's Hospital
and Women's Services) help
organize the UVA Spokes for
Strokes Spin-a-thon along
with UVA Stroke Clinic Nurse
Coordinator Abby Rieman.
Dr. Southerland and other
members of the UVA Stroke
Care Team also participate
in the spinning class event in
Charlottesville. This same group
served on the auction committee for the 2018 American Heart
Association/American Stroke
Association Charlottesville
Heart and Stroke Ball, where
Skylar was the featured stroke
survivor (see a reenactment
of her stroke at youtube.com/
watch?v=pWocfNpsnus).
Skylar knows well that
women, especially, tend to disregard stroke warning signs and
think, "I'll be fine in the morning." It's important to get to the
hospital fast if you notice someone suddenly experiencing:
numb or weak face, arm or leg,
especially on one side
confusion, trouble speaking or
understanding
trouble seeing in one or both
eyes
trouble walking, dizziness, loss
of balance or coordination
severe headache with no
known cause
Check your risk for stroke at
uvahealth.com/mystrokerisk.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?=pwocfnpsnus http://www.youtube.com/watch?=pwocfnpsnus http://www.uvahealth.com/mystrokerisk http://www.cadisp.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vim & Vigor - Fall 2018 - University of Virginia

Contents
Vim & Vigor - Fall 2018 - University of Virginia - Cover1
Vim & Vigor - Fall 2018 - University of Virginia - Cover2
Vim & Vigor - Fall 2018 - University of Virginia - Contents
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