Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Snowstorms and strokes - strange association

The people in my town, Columbia, Missouri, can thank me for the lack of snow lately. A couple of years ago on Black Friday, I bought a snow blower online, from my recliner. That's my kind of Black Friday shopping.

But it's been mostly idle since - not that much snow. Which is fine. I'm not a fan.

So how does this tie in with strokes? It seems that snowstorms may bring blizzards health troubles, including strokes:
Hospital admissions for heart-related ailments -- heart attack, chest pain and stroke -- were 23 percent higher two days after a storm.
The study authors believe their analysis is the first to examine hospital admissions over the course of several days after low, moderate and high snowfalls.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Story of a clinical trial provides serious food for thought

A still from the video of my PFO closure.
Click here to watch the video.
Something to think about: Clinical trials are necessary but can be thought-provoking.

The Houston Chronicle recently published a look at a clinical trial to find answers about closing a heart defect called a patent foramen ovale, or a PFO. It's potentially a stroke-causing defect. It was the probable cause of my stroke in 1998. It got patched up in 2007. You can click here to read about it.

But even though mine was fixed almost 10 years ago, it didn't end the controversy over whether the procedure - done in a cardiac catheterization lab - was really better than treating the defect with medication. One of my personal choices involved not taking blood-thinning warfarin - click here to read about it - for the rest of my life.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Undiagnosed and untreated - what's your blood pressure?

Last week, the focus was global hypertension problems. Now, in a North American study, we learn that high blood pressure is often undiagnosed, untreated:
For the study, the researchers measured the blood pressure of almost 1,100 volunteers. The measurements were taken at mobile clinics that the researchers had set up at shopping malls, workplaces, hospitals and community centers in a large city.
The study revealed that 50 percent of the participants were unaware they had high blood pressure. Of these people, 2 percent were at very high risk for health complications.
The findings were published online Jan. 5 in the American Journal of Hypertension.
"What is particularly significant about this study is that a surprisingly large number of participants exhibited some type of hypertensive urgency or emergency," study author Dr. Grant Pierce said in a journal news release. Pierce is executive director of research at St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg.
Most of the people with high blood pressure weren't being treated even if they had been diagnosed. The study authors suggested that either these people didn't fully understand their condition, or they didn't understand the health consequences associated with high blood pressure.
High blood pressure is the leading cause of strokes. Taking it seriously might save a life.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The world is experiencing a high blood pressure increase

High blood pressure - hypertension - is the leading risk factor for strokes.

So the news is a little frightening - high blood pressure is increasing worldwide:
"There are almost 900 million people in the world with hypertension, and there are almost 3.5 billion people with elevated blood pressure that doesn't quite meet the definition of hypertension," said study lead author Christopher Murray. He directs the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle.
"Blood pressure is the leading cause of premature death and disability in the world," Murray said.
Blood pressure is made up of two numbers. The top number, called systolic pressure, measures the pressure in the arteries when blood is being pumped from the heart. The bottom number, the diastolic pressure, measures pressure between heartbeats. Blood pressure is expressed in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).
The study authors said that even systolic blood pressure within what is considered a normal range -- less than 120/80 mm Hg, according to the American Heart Association -- can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
It's important to pay attention to your blood pressure and if needed, work with your health professionals to control it.

(Photo from U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Top posts visited in 2016

Stroke of Faith has been around since December 2005 - more than 11 years now.

I ran numbers recently for the top five most-read postings in 2016. Just one was actually posted that year - the rest are a collection of oldies but goodies starting with:

1. There's a hole in my heart 

2. Stroke signs: Remember the first three letters, S. T. R.

3. 'Do not be anxious about anything'

4. 'Be our strength every morning'

5. How I learned about aphasia and intelligence - the hard way

The top most-read posting is about the likely cause of my stroke - a patent foramen ovale, or a hole between the two upper chambers of my heart. The second is a quick read about stroke signs. Numbers 3 and 4 are Scripture-based postings, and No. 5, the only one posted in 2016, reminds us all that aphasia effects language - but doesn't reduce intelligence.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

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."

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Marriage might boost stroke survival odds

I see countless benefits of being married to someone who puts up with me. Now, it seems, a lengthy, stable marriage may boost stroke survival:
Stroke patients may have better odds of surviving if they're in a long-term stable marriage, a new study suggests.
Researchers found that among more than 2,300 stroke sufferers, those who'd been "continuously" married had a better chance of surviving -- versus both lifelong singles and people who'd been divorced or widowed.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Aphasia hits young people differently than seniors

Stories about aphasia speak to me.
And stories about young people - I was just 39 - who have had a stroke also interests me. Further - and play the audio at the bottom of this posting - music and aphasia intrigue me.
“We are seeing more younger people with aphasia attending our program,” said Leora Cherney, the director of the Center for Aphasia Research and Treatment at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

'Give you a future filled with hope'

I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the Lord; they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope. When you call me and come and pray to me, I will listen to you. When you search for me, yes, search for me with all your heart, you will find me.
Hope ever seem hopeless?

Personally, I'm a big fan of hope. But still, sometimes hope seems distant. Once, when people were in exile and hope seemed distant, this reminder came: "... they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope."

These verses stay with me for lots of reasons. I've run across it off and on in my life, which is not a big surprise. It's often-quoted. A couple of years ago, I had a small health scare (odd spot on a lung) that turned out to be nothing of note. A friend quoted one of these verses in response.

There are lots of thoughts these verses generate, but today, remember hope.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

More worrisome numbers about strokes striking the young

You've read about this concern here before: People designated as "older" Americans are seeing better numbers in stroke rates, while younger people are seeing a rise.

Now, we get some more solid statistics comparing the "Golden Generation" vs. "Generation X" with a finding of strokes decline in older Americans, rise in young:
"People born during what I call the 'Golden Generation,' 1945 to 1954, had lower rates of stroke than those born 20 years before them and also in the 20 years after them," said lead researcher Joel Swerdel. He is a Ph.D. candidate at the Rutgers University School of Public Health in New Jersey.