Thursday, September 14, 2017

After years of decline, South sees rise in stroke deaths

Even though the South is also know as the Stroke Belt, we've seen a decline in stroke deaths - until now. In the most recent numbers, stroke deaths are rising in the South:
In its monthly Vital Signs report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that stroke deaths are on the rise in the South in recent years after decades of decline, and rates are stagnant in other states. While stroke deaths have declined more than 76 percent since 1968 among adults 35 and older, and 38 percent since 2000, that decline has roughly leveled off or even increased in most states since 2013, according to the report. That includes an overall 4 percent increase in the South, with a 3 percent increase in Georgia and a whopping 10.8 percent increase in Florida.
“This is an important wake-up call,” said Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, director of the CDC and a former Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health. It is particularly alarming among those ages 35-64, which made up a third of the more than 32,000 “excess stroke deaths,” those who died from stroke who might not have had the death rates continued their decline.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Meth could up stroke risk in younger users

Methamphetamine's dangers are well known - and now, it looks like that the drug could up stroke risk in younger users:
With use of the stimulant increasing, particularly in more potent forms, doctors in many countries are seeing more meth-related disease and harms, the Australian study authors said. This is especially true among younger people, who are the major users of the drug.
"It is likely that methamphetamine abuse is making a disproportionate contribution to the increased incidence of stroke among young people observed over recent years," said researchers led by Julia Lappin. She's with the National Drug and Alcohol Research Center at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.
These strokes can lead to disabilities or death, she and her colleagues pointed out.
(Photo from MedlinePlus)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Men are seeing a decline in stroke risk - but women?

You might have seen postings about the disturbing numbers about younger people having strokes. Now, while stroke risk is declining among some groups, a recent study suggests that stroke risk is declining in men but not women:
The incidence of stroke has declined in recent years, but only in men.
Researchers studied stroke incidence in four periods from 1993 to 2010 in five counties in Ohio and Kentucky. There were 7,710 strokes all together, 57.2 percent of them in women. ...
No one knows why there has been no improvement in women, but the lead author, Dr. Tracy E. Madsen, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Brown, said that some risk factors have a stronger effect in women than in men. Risk factors for stroke include high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and smoking.
“Maybe we’re not controlling risk factors to the same extent in women. Or maybe there’s a biological difference in the way these risk factors cause strokes in men versus women.”
In any case, Dr. Madsen said, “It’s important for women to know they are at risk. Stroke has been considered a male disease, but we know that it is very prevalent in women and has a high risk of disability and death."




Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Where did your stroke happen? Geography might impact treatment

Photo from David Kessler via Flickr
Last week, the posting was about people born in the "stroke belt" region.

So for a related item, a look at cholesterol-treating drugs seem less likely to be prescribed in the stroke belt, with no statin prescribed for half of stroke survivors:
But inside the so-called Stroke Belt region, seniors were 47% less likely to be discharged on a statin, and men were 31% less likely to get a prescription for the lipid-lowering drugs than women. Neither association was seen outside the Stroke Belt.
"All survivors of ischemic stroke should be evaluated to determine whether they could benefit from a statin, regardless of the patient's age, race, sex, or geographic residence," lead author Karen Albright, PhD, DO, MPH, of the Birmingham VA Medical Center, said in a press release.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Where were you born? If you're from the 'stroke belt,' you might be in danger

Geography if often a key health indicator. Now, a recent study shows that being born in the U.S. "stroke belt" is tied to higher risk of dementia:
For the current study, researchers examined data on 7,423 adults living in Northern California, including 1,166 people born in high stroke-mortality states - all but one in the South: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, South Carolina and West Virginia.
At age 65, the risk of developing dementia in the next 20 years was 30 percent for people born in these states, compared to 21 percent for those born elsewhere, the study found.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

How heart health is linked to brain health

You've seen this theme before - exercise is linked to decreased stroke risk. This study looked at heart health, brain size, and what it means - how heart health is linked to brain health later in life:
Those who scored high at the start were more likely to have higher brain volume when they reached middle age. The study authors say that every point lower a person scored on the Life's Simple 7 corresponded with about one year of age-related brain shrinkage.
"Larger brain volume, relative to head size, is associated with better health," explains study author Michael Bancks, a postdoctoral fellow in preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, in an email to TIME. "Brain atrophy — smaller brain volume — is associated with death and disability." Prior studies have linked smaller brain size to lower cognitive function scores and an increased risk for health events like stroke in middle age and beyond.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

'Aphasia Choir' uses music for help in recovery

I've posted before about my own story about stroke recovery, aphasia and singing. Here's a recent story about an "Aphasia Choir" in Vermont:
How is it that survivors of stroke and certain brain injury are often unable to speak but they still can sing? The answer lies in the brain's physiology. By tapping into the undamaged right hemisphere, the stroke survivor can recall familiar melodies and express them through song. Enter, the Aphasia Choir.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

More millennials are having strokes

Is a stroke tsunami heading this way? That's one thought expressed in this piece on how more millennials are having strokes:
Although many of the details are murky, the potential impact is clear: In the short term severe strokes among younger adults are a big problem because disability in people in their peak earning years can severely impact their families and future lives, Elkind says. Longer-term, more strokes — even relatively mild ones — among younger adults are worrying because they portend an upcoming epidemic of worse attacks in another 30 years (since survivors’ second strokes are more likely to be stronger and potentially fatal). “We are just seeing those little waves hitting the beach now but that tsunami will come in the future,” says Elkind, who notes that risk factors such as obesity and smoking are cumulative over time.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Another hole-in-the-heart story about an unexpected stroke

A story similar to mine - a stroke that came out of nowhere. One woman's story about the undiscovered hole in the heart can lead to a stroke:
A still shot of the repair of my hole in the heart.
Click here to read more about it.
“I had four strokes,” Dean said. “A clot ran up from my leg, broke off a piece into my lung and the other half went into a hole in my heart that I didn't know I had and it went into my head and sprayed into four strokes.”
It’s called patent foramen ovale (PFO), Latin for “open oval window.” It is a small hole located in the upper chamber of the heart, which makes it possible for a baby in utero to get blood from the placenta through the umbilical cord to the heart, but it typically closes a few months after birth.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Stroke patients can keep recovering, even after a year

One takeaway from a recent story about stroke recovery shows something to remember - "it's highly unethical to say nothing can be done after 12 months" in recovery. Personally, it took me years to get back to my almost-100 percent recovery. Stroke recovery can be incremental.

Now, will horses and music definitely help? One small study doesn't prove that it does, but it's worth studying further. Read how long-term stroke survivors believe they do better with horse, music therapy:
A small Swedish study of stroke patients finds that activities such as horseback riding and rhythm-and-music therapy can help them feel like they're recovering faster, even if their stroke occurred years earlier.