Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Blood pressure - finding patterns might help prevent strokes later

High blood pressure, as we know, is the leading cause of strokes.

Now, it seems, reviewing patterns in a person's blood pressure over time - in years - might find clues about predicting stroke risk:
For this new study, Portegies and her colleagues collected 20 years of data on the systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) of more than 6,700 Dutch adults. Participants were ages 55 to 106 and living in a suburb of Rotterdam.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Stroke stats can be confusing - but many strokes can be prevented

News about strokes in the United States is mixed bag these days. Fewer hospitalizations. Fewer total rates. Higher rates among young people. Increases in some stroke risk factors.

And not all of those issues are answered - just speculation about, for example, why young people are seeing an increase in strokes.

One obvious item is stroke prevention, especially for those changeable lifestyle behaviors that could really reduce risk. Check out this piece about different populations and stroke prevention:

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

You likely know about strokes, but share this with people who aren't so familiar

May is Stroke Awareness Month - which I haven't been emphasizing in the last few years, instead focusing on stroke awareness regardless of month - so you'll probably see similar articles in your local media.

Nonetheless, it's a good reference about what you need to know about surviving or preventing a stroke:
The key to minimizing the effects of a stroke is to learn to identify the symptoms. There’s a quick mnemonic that can help with that: FAST.
F: face droop
A: arm weakness
S: speech difficulty
T: time to call 911

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Not all stroke rehab facilities are equal: What's best for you?

Earlier this week, I posted an item about avoiding readmission to a hospital.

Now, here's a story about a facility that might help with that, too - in-patient facilities better for stroke rehab:
The report warned that as systems of care evolve in response to healthcare reform, "post-acute care and rehabilitation are often considered a costly area of care to be trimmed" with little recognition of their impact on patient outcomes.
"Stroke rehab is not considered very sexy, but it turns out that it can have a huge impact on quality of life and function," Winstein told MedPage Today.
The writing group noted that stroke rehabilitation services, as currently delivered in the U.S., are broad and "highly heterogeneous, varying in the type of care settings used; in the duration, intensity, and type of interventions delivered; and in the degree of involvement of specific medical, nursing and other rehabilitation specialists."
"The intensity of rehabilitation care varies widely, depending on the setting, with the most intensive rehabilitation care provided in (certified) inpatient rehabilitation facilities (IRFs), followed by skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), which provide 'subacute' rehabilitation," the group wrote.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Finally, we're paying attention to staying out of the hospital

It's just been lately that the American health system has really paid attention to readmission - that is, you have a stroke, stay in the hospital for likely a brief time, sent home with little or no follow-up, and you wind up back in the hospital.

Many reasons, but the bottom line is that for a long time, you were left to your own devices, with little or no instruction.

Now, the industry is paying attention to avoid that cycle. Check out the recent story how a stroke care transition program has cut readmission:
"A lot of stroke programs are doing follow-up phone calls to patients," Bushnell said, "but our data shows that phone calls alone are not good enough to reduce readmissions. It is really important for patients to be engaged in their own stroke recovery, and part of that involves coming to clinic and making sure they get all the services they need."

Thursday, May 05, 2016

'All you who hope in the Lord'

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.
Hope can be a hard-to-find commodity.

Maybe that's not the right way to say it. Hope is marketed every day, everywhere. You see hope offered in infomercials: Look better! Feel better! Fix a body part! Buy this thing! We can make you happy!

Any of this really hope? I'll let you answer that question for yourself.

Have you ever been in the market for hope, real hope? I'm guessing that's part of the human condition - experienced by anyone and everyone. We feel a natural need for hope. We strive for hope. We look for hope.

The Psalm writer was giving a path to real, living hope - remembering the gifts and the wonders God freely offer.

And one of the gifts: Hope. Not infomercial hope, but the real deal.


Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Call it "mini" but don't call it unimportant

Just because something is called "mini" doesn't mean it's not big.

A mini-stroke - or transient ischemic attack, TIA for short - is often a sign for a devastating stroke to follow. So take it seriously.

I posted a similar item last week, but it's worth repeating - quick, aggressive treatment for TIAs could slash major stroke risk by 50 percent:
According to the researchers, sending a person to the hospital after a “mini-stroke,” even if the muscle weakness or slurring of speech lasted a mere few seconds, could reduce the risk of major strokes by as much as 50 percent. TIAs, after all, are oftentimes a sign that a more serious, possibly fatal stroke may be coming in days, or even a few hours.