Thursday, July 30, 2015

Aspirin today? You are not alone - and maybe Missouri could do better

(Credit below)
You know, aspirin is good for headaches, too.

I ran across some numbers the other day about aspirin use - high numbers of users who want to avoid stroke or heart disease.

Within the heart patients surveyed, a fairly tiny number take aspirin for pain relief. It is actually a pretty good non-steroid anti-inflammatory, too, if you can stomach it.

One down note for my current state of residence - Missouri. Read about this and from a story running down the numbers on aspirin's common use:
"Overall, 70.8 percent of adult respondents with existing [cardiovascular disease] reported using aspirin regularly (every day or every other day)," the researchers found.
Nearly 94 percent of regular low-dose aspirin (or baby aspirin) users with a history of heart problems said they take it for heart attack prevention.
Four out of five said they take it for stroke prevention, and 76 percent for both heart attack and stroke prevention, the study authors reported Thursday. The study was based on an analysis of data from the 2013 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.
Twenty states and the District of Columbia were included in the annual telephone survey.
Very few -- just 4 percent -- of these heart patients said they took aspirin for pain relief only, reported Dr. Jing Fang and colleagues at the CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
By state, aspirin use ranged from 72 percent of people with a history of heart problems in Mississippi to 44 percent in Missouri, the report showed.
Of course, even if you think about taking a baby aspirin a day, check with your health provider first.

(Icons made by Freepik from licensed by CC BY 3.0)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Secondhand smoke: Does it have a deadly link to stroke risk?

Photo by Global Panorama via Flickr.
We know smoking is linked to increased stroke risk - among many other dangers.

It's possible that even being around smokers might bump up your risk. Check out this recent study how secondhand smoke is tied to raised stroke risk:
"Our findings suggest the possibility for adverse health outcomes such as stroke among nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke and add to the body of evidence supporting stricter smoking regulations," said lead author Angela Malek, of the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.
Researchers analyzed data from nearly 22,000 white and black American adults older than 45. About 23 percent said they were exposed to secondhand smoke in the previous year.
Between April 2003 and March 2012, there were 428 strokes among the study participants. There were 352 ischemic strokes (blockage of blood flow to the brain), 50 bleeding (hemorrhagic) strokes, and 26 strokes of unknown subtype.
After adjusting for other stroke risk factors -- such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease -- the researchers found that exposure to secondhand smoke was linked to about a 30 percent increase in nonsmokers' risk of stroke.
I can't exaggerate the dangers of smoking. It's the only legal product I'm aware of that kills you when you use it as the manufacturer intends.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

'Those who wait upon God ...'

Photo by Frank Kovalchek via Flickr
For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, they run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.
A couple of postings ago, I complained about nagging back pain. And even though I'm not so young these days, I understand how, as Isaiah says, young people can get tired, drop out, stumble and fall.

Ever feel that way?

As this is being written, I'm waiting for word that my health insurance will cover a shot in the back that, I hope, will help. Complaints about employee-based health insurance delays - thus reducing their own employees' productivity - could take up an entire posting and then some.

But today, it's about waiting. It seems we live in a hurry-up world today. If there's nothing I can do but wait, I need to wait. Not necessarily on human timetables, but on God's timetable. Follow God's timetable will give me fresh strength, as Isaiah told so eloquently so long ago.

Now, will I always get exactly what I want by waiting? Not necessarily. But God's strength comes in many ways, many sizes, many shapes. I must refresh my trust in that.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Was your stroke an emergency? Not all that long ago...

Photo by Chris Violette via Flickr
We've gone a long way.

Twenty years ago, a stroke wasn't considered an emergency. No treatment to reverse or limit a stroke's brain damage.

In 1996, the clot-busting drug tissue plasminogen activator was approved to treat strokes. That also caused a great deal of rethinking how health care providers responded to strokes. What was not an emergency suddenly became one. That meant a lot of rethinking of roles and actions of health professionals when a stroke happens.

An interesting take on that history and more ideas evolving, focusing on when stroke care is a statewide effort:

Thursday, July 16, 2015

'You have done so many things!'

Lord, you have done so many things! You made them all so wisely! The earth is full of your creations!

One of those creations, of course, would be ... you!

When you're having one of those days - frustration, perhaps, or without obvious progress - remember that you are one of God's creations.

I've had some particularly trying days lately with an old back injury flaring up, which happens every few years. Yesterday, I stayed close to home, laying flat on the floor with an ice bag and living on muscle relaxers.

So I pondered this yesterday. Every day is important, of course, but it is only a day. Today, I'm much better. I feel hope for tomorrow.


Only this: I am one of God's creation. That's all I need to know.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Get moving after a stroke?

Photo from U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention
Hanging around in a hospital bed is seldom good for you. Everybody knows that - and now we've got a little evidence for stroke patients.

Mine affected my speech, not so much my physical abilities. I was a little unsteady for a while and, in my way of thinking, lost a little of my fine motor skills. But so many people have more profound physical issues after a stroke.

And part of the answer, it seems is that people with brain injuries heal faster if they get up and get moving:

Thursday, July 09, 2015

For women, PTSD seems linked to stroke risk

Stroke prevention becomes even more important when an additional risk factor looms. Recent research about post-traumatic stress disorder reveals that PTSD and trauma may raise women's stroke risks:

For women with severe PTSD, the study found a 60 percent higher risk of heart attack or stroke compared to women who hadn't experienced any trauma. The risk was increased 45 percent for women who experienced a traumatic event but didn't develop PTSD, the researchers added.
"Our study is the first to look at trauma exposure and PTSD symptoms and new cases of cardiovascular disease in a general population sample of women," said lead researcher Jennifer Sumner, an epidemiologist at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health in New York City.
It's important to note, however, that while this study found an association between trauma and a higher risk of stroke and heart attack, it wasn't designed to prove a cause-and-effect relationship. It's possible that other factors may explain the increased risk.