Thursday, November 20, 2014

Today - actually any day - is a good time to quit smoking

Today is the Great American Smokeout - a day to quit smoking.

Actually, any date is a good day to quit smoking. It's a leading cause of strokes. Here's some basic information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about smoking and stroke:
How are smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke related to heart disease and stroke?
Smoking is a leading cause of heart disease. Smoking can:
  • Raise triglycerides (a type of fat in your blood)
  • Lower "good" cholesterol (HDL)
  • Damage cells that line the blood vessels
  • Cause thickening and narrowing of blood vessels
  • Cause clots to form, blocking blood flow to the heart
So, listen to this former smoker in the video below:

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Note to self: If you're going to have a stroke, schedule it

This week, I took a friend to a hospital's emergency room after normal business hours. This isn't the only visit that confirmed my belief that health care suffers after hours.

Now, from Denmark, a new study looks at that weekend effect:
Overall, death within 30 days was 15% more common among patients presenting to Danish hospitals on weekend, evening, or night-time hours compared with those admitted during regular business hours, Nina Sahlertz Kristiansen, MHSc, of the Centre for Quality in Middelfart, Denmark, and colleagues found.
Off-hours admissions were associated with a lower likelihood of meeting even eight out of 10 performance measures, but that difference diminished over time, particularly from 2003 to 2011 after a national quality improvement program, the group reported online in Stroke.
The key factor in the mortality difference appeared to be stroke severity, they noted.
If only strokes followed a calendar and time clock - only Monday through Friday, 9 to 5.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Watch out for that easy road

The safest road to hell is a gradual one. This is safe road has a gentle slope, without turns, without milestones, without signposts, without warnings.
First and foremost: I am not a theologian.

Neither, by the way, was C.S. Lewis.

However, that aside, and no matter what you or yours think about hell, his quote carries a lot of meaning in life in general. How much in life leads to bad results by a supposed easy path?

We roll along, perhaps not paying close attention to certain diet, exercise, smoking or other choices we make. Things seem to be going over life's paths that appear to be safe, without warnings.

You know what can happen. A stroke can come at young, old or in between, without warning.

A different road - more thinking through diet selections, deciding how to exercise, making conscious choices about smoking - seems harder. Not necessarily perfect, but at least considered. And with better possible outcomes. Not guaranteed, but more likely.

Again, I'm not here to debate the existence or characteristics of hell. But just be careful what road your life is taking. It might make a difference here on earth.

Friday, November 07, 2014

'My strength and my defense'

    I will trust and not be afraid.
The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense;
    he has become my salvation.

Truth be told, I was afraid on May 8, 1998.

But even on that day, God was my strength and my defense. And because of that, I trust God more. Will I ever be afraid again? That's an unanswerable question. I would like to say no - and as I continue building up my faith, I hope to one day give that answer honestly: No.

Everyone has - or will have - a day with threat, a day that could be filled with fear. Here's to all our faith journeys continuing to reach higher and higher levels of trust in God so that fear - like death - can be conquered.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Reducing time can improve outcomes

You've heard here and elsewhere that time is so critical in stroke treatment. Even though stroke treatment is far from ideal, speed can often improve the outcome.

I ran across an interesting article that laid out ideas that experts propose to reduce time in treating strokes:
Because the absence of blood flow to the brain results in the ongoing death of brain cells and continued loss of functionality, “every minute of delay in administering t-PA is worth 1.8 days of disability-free life,” he said. “Years ago, we were treating 4 percent of patients nationwide with t-PA, which has grown to 8 percent and even 10 percent in New Jersey thanks to greater awareness by both hospitals and patients. But with a theoretical goal of administering it to 30-40 percent of all stroke patients someday,” he said, “we’ve got a long way to go.”
To help close that gap, Gizzi advocates further streamlining the process by which stroke victims are treated during transport to the hospital through a series of new practices, many of which require a physician’s greater trust in, reliance on, and collaboration with the emergency medical services personnel and paramedics who are first on the scene.
Most of us have seen delays in treatment of all kinds of ailments in hospitals and other locations. For stroke patients, delays can mean death or disability. The need for speed must be taken seriously.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What's important: Stories of survival

Today is World Stroke Day. Now, that doesn't mean a lot to me. Strokes don't keep a calendar, This blog is not part of a non-profit trying to raise profile or raise funding (both of which are needed and important, by the way).

But I did run across a Tampa Bay Times piece about the most important part of stroke awareness - people. Check out the link to read three stories of survival:
"I was having a perfect day and felt completely fine the second before my left side went out," she said.
Bedinghaus is like many Americans who have suffered a stroke and didn't see it coming.
Wednesday is World Stroke Day, and the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association of Tampa Bay use the day as an opportunity to encourage everyone to learn the warning signs of a stroke by using the acronym FAST:
Face drooping; Arm weakness; Slurred speech; and Time to call 911.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

'... He heard my voice ...'

In my distress I called to the Lord;
    I cried to my God for help.

From his temple he heard my voice;
    my cry came before him, into his ears.
Could you talk during and after your stroke? I couldn't that day. To this day, I feel that my thoughts are sometimes bottled up while I try to get them out. Writing is much easier for talking. The delete key is my friend.

It especially comes through during times of stress, when I'm tired, when I'm not familiar with the topic, or when I'm given little time to think about what I'm supposed to say.

The words in this passage gives me some comfort. God hears your voice. In times of stress. When you're tired. Any circumstances. And if your voice has been silenced or stifled by a stroke, God still hears you perfectly, even if you are in a silent struggle.

Distress? Call for God. He stands ready to hear your voice - even if impaired of silent. Your cry comes before him loud and clear.