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.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Finding the right words - the challenge of aphasia

June is Aphasia Awareness Month. And until 19 years ago, I had no idea what the word meant.

But I know now. It's a language disorder, leaving some people unable to speak. Others can speak but struggle to find the right words.

That was me. I still have the list of words I said to my wife after my 1998 stroke: towrith, rice, torithe. And I was trying to say the name of a city I'd visited not long before -- Jonesboro. Through time and with the help of a speech therapist, family and friends, I'm almost 100 percent back.

I can still remember frequently swapping pronouns -- referring to a male as "she" or a female as "he," a common occurrence. Or leaving out small words. Or using the wrong tense -- such as saying "worked" instead of "working."

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Helicopters delivering doctors for stroke patients

Most of us have likely seen helicopters carrying patients to hospitals. Now, there's the idea that flying doctors to stroke victims may improve outcomes:
Transporting doctors to stroke victims could be one viable way of bringing the procedure to more patients, Hui believes. He has been flown to Suburban Hospital to treat three patients this year. Early indications are that it is less expensive and faster than transporting a patient to the doctor.
In a case study of one those incidents printed in the Journal of Neurointerventional Surgery earlier this month, it took Hui 77 minutes to fly to the hospital and complete the procedure. The helicopter took off for the 19-minute flight from Hopkins to Montgomery County at 12:24 p.m. At 1:07 p.m. Hui inserted the catheter into the patient and he completed the surgery by 1:47 p.m.
The full process took about the same amount of time as it would have if Hui had performed the procedure on a patient at Johns Hopkins because doctors at Suburban prepped the patient before Hui arrived to the hospital. It likely would have taken longer to prepare the patient to be transported to Hopkins, let alone travel time and preparation and surgery once there, he said.
Although the study wasn't designed to look at the health outcome of the patient, studies have shown that timing is crucial when treating stroke patients because patients lose brain capacity with each minute they are not treated. Stroke victims do best when they are treated as quickly as possible — ideally in 100 minutes or less.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Here's another story of 'A Stroke of Faith'

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
-Psalm 27:14
Mark Moore learned this lesson the hard way. Ten years ago he was hit by back-to-back strokes that could have taken his life. He spent a month in a coma and wake up to find his life forever changed. He re-learned how to walk.

His biggest challenges? One was impatience - recovery doesn’t happen overnight. “It’s incremental … you have to be patient,” he said in an interview earlier this week, coinciding with the release of his new book, “A Stroke of Faith: A Stroke Survivor’s Story of a Second Chance of Living a Life of Significance.” Just to be clear, the book isn’t directly related to this blog with a similar name.

Then again, it’s semi-related because like me, Mark had a stroke at a relatively young age, nearly died and struggled to recover. Also like me, he's finished races during his recovery. A year after his stroke, he finished a 5K (that's 3.1 miles) and went on to run a 10K.