Monday, December 25, 2017

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."

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Get a flu shot - and perhaps decrease your stroke risk

Have you had your flu shot yet?

Especially if you're an older adult, the flu increases your risk of stroke or heart attack. Flu can have a dangerous domino effect on older adults:
"Not as well known: In the two weeks to a month after you recover from influenza, you have a three to five times increased risk of having a heart attack," Schaffner said in a university news release. "You have a two to three times increased risk of having a stroke.
"Nobody wants a heart attack or a stroke, so by preventing flu, you prevent this inflammatory response and you can help prevent those strokes and heart attacks," Schaffner said.
Seniors account for more than half of flu-related hospitalizations caused by influenza and more than 80 percent of flu-related deaths, he said, so it's especially important for seniors to get a flu shot.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Strokes and holes in the heart - a solid explanation

A good explanation of what likely happened to me almost 20 years ago - a hole in the heart causing a stroke. A trusty Google alert found this good, simple explanation how after a stroke with no clear cause, a heart repair may be in order:
A still from the video of my PFO closure.
Click here to watch the video
Most strokes occur when a clot blocks blood flow to part of the brain. Often, doctors can tell what caused the clot to form. But about a quarter of the time — especially in people younger than 60 — there is no obvious reason. These types of strokes are known as cryptogenic (meaning "of hidden origin").
One possible cause underlying a cryptogenic stroke is an opening in the wall that separates the heart's right and left upper chambers (atria). Known as a patent foramen ovale, or PFO, this flaplike opening is quite common. About one-quarter of all adults have a PFO (see "What is a patent foramen ovale?").
"But about 45% of people who have cryptogenic strokes have a PFO, which suggests the two conditions are related," says Dr. John Jarcho, a cardiologist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital. Yet for years, the question of whether closing a PFO could prevent additional strokes has been hard to answer.
Click on the link above for the entire article. And you can click here to read more about my own experience, including a heart repair in 2007.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

'He guides me along the right paths'

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
It's been months since this blog has featured a posting based on Scripture. Why?

My life has been increasingly busy - work, home, etc - and the Scripture-based postings require me to think differently. I don't want to just throw out random thoughts to accompany Bible verses. It's been easier lately to just quote a recent article about stroke research or prevention.

I ran across the verses above several weeks ago, waiting for inspiration. I don't know if I have inspiration or not, but I feel compelled to include these verses today, especially the last sentence.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Modifiable stroke risks still rising across all ages, races

Most - not all, but most - strokes are preventable. Experts have been know for years that risk factors include high blood pressure, smoking and high cholesterol. All addressable issues. Yet, as NPR reported not long ago, modifiable stroke risks are still rising across all ages and races:
For years, doctors have been warning us that high cholesterol, cigarette smoking, illegal drug use and diabetes increase our chances of having a potentially fatal stroke.
And yet, most of the stroke patients showing up at hospitals from 2004 to 2014 had one or more of these risk factors. And the numbers of people at risk in this way tended to grow among all age groups and ethnicities in that time period. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

TIAs: Don't call them ministrokes

I've called them ministrokes before, but this article from U.S. News makes me re-think that phrase. It contends that you shouldn't call transient ischemic attacks ministrokes:
Yet, while 35 percent of adults in the U.S. have had symptoms suggestive of a TIA, only 3 percent of them called 911 for help, according to a recent online survey of more than 2,000 people by the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association. That’s a mistake, experts say. If you have symptoms of a stroke or TIA, “don't wait it out,” advises Dr. Dion F. Graybeal, medical director of stroke at the Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. “Take these symptoms seriously and call 911.” If it’s a real stroke, every minute counts in terms of getting treatment and reducing the risk of permanent disability. And if it’s a TIA, “it’s an opportunity to intervene and hopefully stop a process or condition that could cause a stroke with disability in the future,” Graybeal says.
It’s better to be safe than sorry because if you have stroke-like symptoms, it’s difficult to tell immediately if you’re having a TIA or a full-blown stroke, says Dr. Nieca Goldberg, a cardiologist and medical director of the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. So it’s important to get to the hospital as soon as possible, There, you will most likely have a CT scan, a CT angiogram, an MRI or an MR angiogram of your brain and the blood vessels in your head to look for a blood clot and evidence of damage to the brain. If damage isn’t apparent and the symptoms have resolved, the episode will be deemed a TIA. But if there is evidence of damage to areas of the brain, the event will be diagnosed as a stroke, even if the symptoms have gone away, Goldstein says.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Stopping aspirin therapy may raise heart attack, stroke risk

Aspirin - cheap and perhaps lifesaving. So read how stopping aspirin therapy may raise heart attack, stroke risk:
Stopping low-dose aspirin therapy without good reason raises the likelihood of heart attack or stroke by nearly 40 percent, a large Swedish study suggests.
Doctors commonly prescribe daily low-dose aspirin after a heart attack to reduce the risk of having a second cardiovascular event. But about one in six patients stop taking their aspirin within three years, the study authors note in Circulation.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Closure of hole in the heart reduces stroke recurrence

A still from the video of my PFO being closed.
Click here to view the video.
If you've read this blog before, you might know that my hole-in-the-heart was closed 10 years ago. Click here to read details.

The hole is called a patent foramen ovale, or PFO. It's an opening between the upper chambers of the heart. We're all born with one, but it's normally closed shortly after birth. For some, though, it remains. For some people, blood clots can pass from one side to the other, getting pumped out to the arteries and eventually in the brain, causing a stroke.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Drug prices especially hit hard in rural America

Which is more valuable - the life of someone who lives in Mountain View, Ark., (population 2,860) or someone who lives just one county over?

That's the question from a good NPR piece about how high drug prices hit rural hospitals extra hard, a story beginning with the story of a stroke patient coming in to a small, rural hospital needing an expensive drug:
For example, Langston's 25-bed hospital pays $8,010 for a single dose of Activase — up nearly 200 percent from $2,708 a decade ago. Yet, just 36 miles down the road, a bigger regional hospital gets an 80 percent discount on the same drug. White River Medical Center, a 235-bed facility in Batesville, Ark., buys Activase for about $1,600 per dose.
White River participates in a federal drug discount program Congress approved in the early 1990s. The program offers significant price breaks on thousands of drugs to hospitals that primarily serve low-income patients. One federal report found the average discount ranged from 20 to 50 percent, though as illustrated with Activase, it can be much higher.

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.