Thursday, March 08, 2018

Everywhere in the world, time is critical for stroke care

It's not just in the United States where stroke patients aren't getting to the emergency department in time. Check out the story from Ireland how over 60pc of stroke patients not arriving on time:
More than 60pc of people who suffer a stroke are not making it to hospital emergency departments in the ideal time frame, specialists warned yesterday.
The success of acute treatment of stroke is extremely time-dependent, the Oireachtas Health Committee was told.
The doctors called for a relaunch of the Act-FAST campaign, which raised awareness among the public about being aware of the symptoms of a stroke.
Prof Rónán Collins, Dr Diarmuid O'Shea and Prof Ken McDonald were appearing before the committee.
The doctors said that a "third to a half of all strokes may be prevented through lifestyle change, management of blood pressure and identification of an irregular heart rhythm".
A "nationwide approach to cardiovascular disease prevention is needed", they said.
Admission to a stroke unit is the foundation of all stroke care and reduces death and disability by 25pc.
"To achieve optimum patient outcomes, all acute stroke patients should be managed in an acute stroke unit," they said.
(Photo from leppre via Flickr)

Thursday, February 22, 2018

'Don't be afraid, for I am with you'

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
Fear, discouragement, weakness - we've all had those feelings.

If you've followed the last couple of postings (click here for the first one, here for the second), you'll know that I'm recovering from eye surgery, with the likelihood that I'm going to have one or two more procedures on my left eye.

As mentioned before, the vision in that eye is blurry. Slowly improving, but blurry. That makes it a little slow to write blog postings (please excuse any typos), emails and other computer tasks. So I need words - like those from Isaiah - to bring encouragement and hope.

And I hope these words help in your own struggles.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

'Wait patiently for the Lord'

Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.
A followup from the last posting - about dealing with worries. I'm also needing some patience.

I'm currently waiting for my left eye to heal from surgery. As this is being written, it's blurry and not really focused.

So I  could use a dose of patience. I want my vision to be stable now. But the healing process requires time, potentially months. So in addition to bring my worries to God in prayer, I need to wait patiently as my eye heals.

How do you wait patiently for the Lord?

Friday, February 16, 2018

'Do not be anxious about anything'

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Lately, it's been hard not to be anxious.

Back in January, I learned that I had a detached retina in my left eye. By Jan. 15, I had the first of two procedures to correct the problem.

That seemed to fix it, but it erupted in a different spot in the same eye, so in late January I had surgery. Now, my left eye's vision is blurry, as expected after surgery. It's slowly improving. Slowly. And it's likely I'll need to have one or two more procedures for the same eye.

It's easy to fall into anxiety and worry about that vision as it slowly returns. But I'm trying - sometimes successfully - to place those worries in God's hands through prayer.

Paul offered these words to the Philippians to ease anxiety. How do you handle your own worries?

Monday, December 25, 2017

Dead to hope? Jesus offers you his own 'Lazarus effect'

[This was originally posted Dec. 24, 2009; revised in 2014]
Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. "Take away the stone," he said.
"But, Lord," said Martha, the sister of the dead man, "by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days."
Then Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"
So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me."
When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, "Take off the grave clothes and let him go."

A few years ago (2008), I heard a presentation by one of the doctors responsible for making tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) available to stroke patients.

In my own 1998 experience, I could not speak, I could not move my right arm or leg - but after the clot-busting tPA, I regained those abilities. It was a dramatic experience. The doctor called it "the Lazarus effect."

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Get a flu shot - and perhaps decrease your stroke risk

Have you had your flu shot yet?

Especially if you're an older adult, the flu increases your risk of stroke or heart attack. Flu can have a dangerous domino effect on older adults:
"Not as well known: In the two weeks to a month after you recover from influenza, you have a three to five times increased risk of having a heart attack," Schaffner said in a university news release. "You have a two to three times increased risk of having a stroke.
"Nobody wants a heart attack or a stroke, so by preventing flu, you prevent this inflammatory response and you can help prevent those strokes and heart attacks," Schaffner said.
Seniors account for more than half of flu-related hospitalizations caused by influenza and more than 80 percent of flu-related deaths, he said, so it's especially important for seniors to get a flu shot.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Strokes and holes in the heart - a solid explanation

A good explanation of what likely happened to me almost 20 years ago - a hole in the heart causing a stroke. A trusty Google alert found this good, simple explanation how after a stroke with no clear cause, a heart repair may be in order:
A still from the video of my PFO closure.
Click here to watch the video
Most strokes occur when a clot blocks blood flow to part of the brain. Often, doctors can tell what caused the clot to form. But about a quarter of the time — especially in people younger than 60 — there is no obvious reason. These types of strokes are known as cryptogenic (meaning "of hidden origin").
One possible cause underlying a cryptogenic stroke is an opening in the wall that separates the heart's right and left upper chambers (atria). Known as a patent foramen ovale, or PFO, this flaplike opening is quite common. About one-quarter of all adults have a PFO (see "What is a patent foramen ovale?").
"But about 45% of people who have cryptogenic strokes have a PFO, which suggests the two conditions are related," says Dr. John Jarcho, a cardiologist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital. Yet for years, the question of whether closing a PFO could prevent additional strokes has been hard to answer.
Click on the link above for the entire article. And you can click here to read more about my own experience, including a heart repair in 2007.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

'He guides me along the right paths'

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
It's been months since this blog has featured a posting based on Scripture. Why?

My life has been increasingly busy - work, home, etc - and the Scripture-based postings require me to think differently. I don't want to just throw out random thoughts to accompany Bible verses. It's been easier lately to just quote a recent article about stroke research or prevention.

I ran across the verses above several weeks ago, waiting for inspiration. I don't know if I have inspiration or not, but I feel compelled to include these verses today, especially the last sentence.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Modifiable stroke risks still rising across all ages, races

Most - not all, but most - strokes are preventable. Experts have been know for years that risk factors include high blood pressure, smoking and high cholesterol. All addressable issues. Yet, as NPR reported not long ago, modifiable stroke risks are still rising across all ages and races:
For years, doctors have been warning us that high cholesterol, cigarette smoking, illegal drug use and diabetes increase our chances of having a potentially fatal stroke.
And yet, most of the stroke patients showing up at hospitals from 2004 to 2014 had one or more of these risk factors. And the numbers of people at risk in this way tended to grow among all age groups and ethnicities in that time period. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

TIAs: Don't call them ministrokes

I've called them ministrokes before, but this article from U.S. News makes me re-think that phrase. It contends that you shouldn't call transient ischemic attacks ministrokes:
Yet, while 35 percent of adults in the U.S. have had symptoms suggestive of a TIA, only 3 percent of them called 911 for help, according to a recent online survey of more than 2,000 people by the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association. That’s a mistake, experts say. If you have symptoms of a stroke or TIA, “don't wait it out,” advises Dr. Dion F. Graybeal, medical director of stroke at the Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. “Take these symptoms seriously and call 911.” If it’s a real stroke, every minute counts in terms of getting treatment and reducing the risk of permanent disability. And if it’s a TIA, “it’s an opportunity to intervene and hopefully stop a process or condition that could cause a stroke with disability in the future,” Graybeal says.
It’s better to be safe than sorry because if you have stroke-like symptoms, it’s difficult to tell immediately if you’re having a TIA or a full-blown stroke, says Dr. Nieca Goldberg, a cardiologist and medical director of the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. So it’s important to get to the hospital as soon as possible, There, you will most likely have a CT scan, a CT angiogram, an MRI or an MR angiogram of your brain and the blood vessels in your head to look for a blood clot and evidence of damage to the brain. If damage isn’t apparent and the symptoms have resolved, the episode will be deemed a TIA. But if there is evidence of damage to areas of the brain, the event will be diagnosed as a stroke, even if the symptoms have gone away, Goldstein says.