Thursday, July 31, 2008

One stroke is enough

Sometimes, a picture says it all.

This is from the Stroke Update Web site, a United Kingdom-based Web site chocked with stroke-related links, articles, news, studies, books and events.

At this writing, its lead articles were about younger adults returning to work after strokes and the June 2008 Welsh Stroke Conference. Another article explores the connection of a stroke with the combination of patent foramen ovale and atrial septal aneurysm.

Often, one stroke, or even a transient ischemic attack - also known as a mini-stroke - increases the risk for another. That's one reason why research is so vital - finding ways to prevent that second event that can be deadly.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Translating language about stroke terms

Sometimes, you just need to know what the experts are talking about. So here are some definitions of common terms used by stroke doctors brought by the Stroke section of

The Web page talks about stroke signs, medication, stroke types, stroke location and more. More and more people - for good or ill - research their own or loved ones conditions on the Web, and here's a reliable resource.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Survivor brings joy to stroke victims

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to visit New Zealand. The visit was too short, with beautiful countryside and friendly people.

Here's some recent news from New Zealand about a stroke survivor who now heads a club that provides a support system for other survivors.

Survivors often get encouragement from other survivors, and this is one of the purposes of this blog. From The New Zealand Herald:

Barbara Mexted of Whakatane was visiting England with her husband Harold when he had a stroke in 1992.

Once home, they were invited to join the Whakatane Stroke Club. Mrs Mexted's answer was no. But two years later she was not only a member, but also the president.

Every month, Mrs Mexted greets 30 to 40 members at the Whakatane Disability Resource Centre before helping to push wheelchairs and show people to their seats.

"Someone had to take over when the old president left," she said. "I just feel that when you have a stroke you're often left feeling deserted. I do it because I enjoy seeing people enjoying themselves. We share a lot of laughs."

That's a lesson many of us can learn from.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tracking a killer: stroke database

Tracking a killer is part of a plan to improve stroke treatment in Tennessee, the Chattanooga Times Free Press recently reported.

A state stroke database was recently created to help in the battle
of one of Tennessee's leading causes of death. From the article:

A newly created Tennessee stroke database will help improve treatment for one of the state’s leading killers, according to researchers and health advocates.

The stroke registry, created by legislation signed into law in June, will include stroke treatment and outcome data from as many Tennessee hospitals as possible, with an eye to identifying and improving weaknesses in stroke care, said Dr. Patti Vanhook, chairwoman of the stroke registry committee for the state’s stroke task force and assistant professor in the college of nursing at East Tennessee State University.
I'm convinced that technology and tracking trends can really increase recovery rates. Another positive step, if carried through correctly. Tennessee stroke care advocates, stay tuned.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Law sets up guidelines for stroke care

Good news for fellow Missourians. As reported in the Springfield News-Leader, a bill was signed into law setting up guidelines for stroke care. From the newspaper:

Stroke and heart attack patients across Missouri could soon get the right intervention faster, and in the right setting, boosting their chances of survival.

Gov. Matt Blunt on Friday (July 11) signed legislation creating a 'Time Critical Diagnosis System' for stroke and a fatal type of heart attack called ST-elevation myocardial infarction, or STEMI.

Missouri is the first state in the nation to enact legislation calling for guidelines for designating stroke and STEMI centers, a Blunt news release said.

"The sooner we treat people, the better they do," said CoxHealth Dr. Scott Duff. He was among CoxHealth and St. John's Hospital doctors and staff who helped develop the legislation.

The idea is to get stroke or heart attack victims into a setting that gives them the best chances of recovery.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Reduced reflexes: future stroke sign

A couple of clues to stroke risk recently discovered and reported by NPR recently: Reduced Reflexes May Indicate Future Stroke.

Research published this week in the Archives of Internal Medicine finds that it may be possible to identify otherwise healthy older adults at risk for stroke and death by screening for subtle, yet clinically detectable neurological abnormalities, such as reduced reflexes and an unstable posture.

Meanwhile, a report published this week in the journal Stroke found that about 10 percent of a group of over 2,000 apparently healthy study participants appear to have experienced a "silent stroke," or silent cerebral infarction. A "silent stroke" has no outward symptoms but can be seen via brain imaging techniques such as MRI. The study authors say the condition can be a risk factor for future strokes, or be an indication of progressive brain damage leading to long-term dementia.

I do question the last, to a degree. While I'm certain there are some truly "silent" strokes, I wonder how many are simply unrecognized when they occurred at some unknown time.

Makes the previous post highlighting an awareness video even more important.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Great stroke awareness video

Watch and share this video. A great resource to teach you how to be a Good Samaritan for someone suffering a stroke.

The life you save might even be your own.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Silent strokes take a toll

A slightly scary story from WebMD the other day: Silent Strokes Take a Toll.

From the story:

A new study found that nearly 11% of people who thought they were healthy actually had some brain damage from a 'silent' stroke. Silent strokes are true strokes but don't result in any noticeable symptoms. People who have had a silent stroke are at higher risk for subsequent strokes and for an accelerated loss of mental skills.

All the more reason to keep watch on your personal stroke risk factors, also listed in the article. Keeping watch includes regular checkups, proper medication, exercise, a good diet, no smoking.

Some factors you can't control - age, for example - so deal with the ones you can control.

While that behavior is not a guarantee against a stroke, it certainly reduces the risk and, if you do have a stroke, it improves the outlook of survival and recovery.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Air pollution may pose stroke risk

Food for thought, from a University of Michigan study, about stroke risk and the air you breathe.

A link about how air pollution may pose stroke risk, from the university's Web site. The item reports:

Short-term exposure to low levels of particulate air pollution may increase the risk of stroke or mini-stroke, according to findings that suggest current exposure standards could be insufficient to protect the public.

The vast majority of the public is exposed to ambient air pollution at the levels observed in this community or greater every day, suggesting a potentially large public health impact,' said Lynda Lisabeth, lead author and assistant professor in the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Wii Fit: fun therapy

While I don't need a Wii Fit for physical therapy, I'd love to try one out just for the sheer fun of it. It sounds like a way to help some recovering stroke survivors. This one is from The Plain Dealer, in Cleveland, Ohio.

From the article in The Plain Dealer in Cleveland:

Physical therapy is best served with a little camaraderie and light conversation, but therapist Nancy Ditzel also dished out some fun to recovering stroke patient Marilyn Smigelski recently.

The LakeEast Hospital therapist put Smigelski to work on the latest Nintendo Wii video system game, called Fit. While the American Physical Therapy Association magazine recently reported widespread use among members of Wii games that simulate sports like tennis and bowling, the Lake hospital system is the first locally to use the Fit game in physical therapy.