Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Good advice - find the balance between treatment risks and benefits

Photo from U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Now, as Paul Harvey used to say, the rest of the story.

I've posted quite a bit about high blood pressure as a stroke risk. It's the leading cause of strokes.

A wise doctor, as part of taking care of my aging mother a few years ago, described health decisions about her as a balancing act. Take this medication, and it might affect that ailment, which might affect other medication, and so on and so on. Truer words were never spoken.

Now, here's some thoughts to consider about high blood pressure, new targets and possible medication side affects, in an article stating that new blood pressure guidelines a danger to patients:
"Our study shows the borderline group is probably as risky as having a blood pressure greater than 150, at least for stroke risk," said senior author Dr. Ralph Sacco, chair of neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. "This was a controversial move, and I think our study suggests we shouldn't switch it to 150. We should stick to 140."
The new findings, published online Feb. 1 in the journal Hypertension, are unlikely to quell arguments over proper blood pressure management, however.
For instance, the new study does not address the risk of side effects associated with blood pressure medications, or how medication would alter a person's overall stroke risk, said Dr. Paul James, head of family medicine at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine.
"It's a matter of balancing the risk of treatment with the benefits of treatment," said James. "That's not a simple thing, and it's not really something that one study like this study could answer."
"Balancing the risk of treatment with benefits of treatment" is a good phrase to commit to memory. High blood pressure? Talk with your doctor. Know potential side effects and watch for them if you start a medication. Borderline high blood pressure? Do the same.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Aging gracefully - or at least while sleeping - might be important

Sleep well?

I must admit that the older I get, the more often I wake up in the middle of the night. Thankfully, I usually go right back to sleep after a small excursion.

Still, measuring sleep quality, especially for seniors, might important information in managing one's stroke risk. Recent research suggests that for seniors, poor sleep may mean higher stroke risk:
Researchers examined the autopsied brains of 315 people, average age 90, who had undergone at least one full week of sleep quality assessment before their death. Twenty-nine percent of them had suffered a stroke, and 61 percent had moderate-to-severe damage to blood vessels in the brain.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Young and old: Do you know what to do?

I was 39 when my stroke hit, and I freely admit that I knew very little about strokes at the time.

And people in that age bracket have strokes every day. And that numbers have been going up.

It's disheartening to hear, then, how most young adults are not stroke savvy:
When asked what they would do if experiencing the hallmark symptoms of stroke, only about one in three people under age 45 said they would very likely head to the hospital.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Why watch the salt? Read the latest facts

How much salt do you need? Probably less than you consume.

If you are a typical American consumer, chances are 9 out of 10 that you consume too much sodium. The problem? It can contribute to high blood pressure, which is the leading cause of strokes.

This has been in the news before, of course, but habits are hard to break. Read more how Americans still consume too much salt:
More than 90 percent of children and 89 percent of adults consume more sodium than is recommended in the new 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The new guidelines advise no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of salt a day -- about a teaspoon -- for most adults.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Stroke and faith - a survivor's story

Photo from Sean P. Anderson via Flickr
Another story of a stroke survivor, and a reminder that strokes pay no attention to someone's station in life, occupation, wealth, notoriety - when a stroke hits, it hits.

Kevin Sorbo recounts place of faith in stroke recovery:
"I was a broken man," Sorbo said. "But I have been revived, redeemed and most certainly I have been reborn. I have been reborn through faith and the hope that comes from that faith."
His testimony included the story of his battle back from three strokes in 1997, the background for his book True Strength. Sorbo described his journey from his TV portrayal of Hercules — the strongest man in the world — to his realization that he was just a mere mortal.
"When those strokes hit me, I went from what I thought was a physical specimen to a guy who couldn’t even stand up without falling down," he said. "My life changed forever in the snap of a finger, or the crack of a neck, in my case. This is where faith and hope come in."

Friday, January 08, 2016

How would you cope with saying just two words?

I feel for this man - a stroke takes away most of his speech ability and leaves him with physical issues.

It's hugely frustrating when you can understand what is said, but you respond only with difficulty. I struggled after mine, and the man in the story below is having a far worse time in that sense. But as mentioned here more than once, aphasia doesn't decrease intelligence.

Follow this link to read about the man who can only say yes and no:
It's not strictly true that Graham can only say "yes" and "no". He can say "and", "no" and "mmm", which means yes, and he also makes an "urr" sound. When he says "and urr…" it means he has something else to say and wants you guess what it is. ...

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

How you or someone you care about can prevent a stroke

Photo from meddygarnet via Flickr
High blood pressure - as you likely know - is the leading cause of strokes. Once this becomes controlled, stroke risks get reduced.

How? One helpful tip is an obvious one: Take your medicine as prescribed.

Does someone you care about have a unpleasant side effect? That's entirely possible. But before abandoning hope, encourage that person to talk to a doctor. More and more research shows blood pressure control's importance - even if it's not super-high. Check out this recent story about high-risk patients should get blood pressure meds: