Thursday, February 26, 2009

A hole in an Osmond heart

Another story of a young - relatively - stroke survivor with a hole in the heart.

Entertainer Jimmy Osmond had a hole in the heart for 40 years before he found it the hard way:

Jimmy was given a bubble echocardiogram - a procedure in which an ultrasound scan of the heart is followed by an injection of a bubble of saline (purified water) into the arm to make the heart functions more visible.

It revealed a Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) - a hole the size of a pound coin in the septal wall that separates the right and upper left chambers of the heart. It was a birth defect that had gone undetected.

Jimmy had been through many insurance medicals but had never been given an echocardiogram as there had not appeared to be any need for one. No abnormal heart sounds had been detected, and his blood pressure and cholesterol were normal.

"My doctor explained that over time, tiny blood clots that he described as 'particles' had travelled from my heart to my brain, forming a large clot. and this is what had caused the stroke," says Jimmy.

The Daily Mail
article included the great graphic (above) that explains the procedure quite well.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

This world can be tough - but not tough enough

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
No separation. Nothing "in all creation" can separate us from the love of God.

Consider illness. Consider suffering. Consider post-stroke trials and tribulations, for the survivors, for the caregivers, for the loved ones. This is not to make light of those conditions - instead, it is a message for the ultimate hope for those suffering.

None of these conditions, as Paul reminds us, "will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Comforting love. Unconditional love. All-encompassing love.

Amen to that, and thank God.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Through telemedicine, we have a survivor

As this example from a USA Today article, the right technology used in the right way can help save a life.

It started with classic symptoms - a women with slurred speech and sagging face - on Thanksgiving Day. Problem: She was 200 miles away from a neurologist. Through telemedicine, the doctor looked at the patient, spoke to the patient, went over a brain scan and diagnosed the stroke.

Experiences such as those are why the Mayo Clinic physician and others see telemedicine as one solution to a vexing problem: Few stroke patients are getting emergency treatments that sometimes prevent the most devastating effects of strokes.

One big reason is that far too few do what that Arizona woman did: Get to a hospital immediately. The most widely used treatment is a clot-busting drug called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) and, under current guidelines, it must be given within three hours of the first symptoms.

And with technology in the right hands, treatment is happening more often in some remote areas. It needs to get into more of those right hands.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Women often unaware of stroke risk

You know the stroke stereotype: They all happen to elderly men.

Wrong, wrong wrong.

For evidence that we need more stroke awareness efforts, an excerpt from an article about how women are often unaware of stroke risk:
The survey shows that:

* Only seven of 37 women (19%) with irregular heart rhythm and 11 of 71 (15%) with known heart disease identified these conditions as risk factors for stroke.

* Just 3% of the women surveyed correctly identified irregular heart rhythm as a stroke risk factor; 16% identified heart disease and 36% identified diabetes as risk factors.

* Two-thirds of the women considered their health to be good or excellent; about 70% said they rarely or never worried about stroke.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

'The earth is full of his unfailing love'

For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.

The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.

"The earth is full of his unfailing love."

Consider those words. The world is full of money - and people try to grab all they can. The world is full of power - and we often see the consequences of a grab of power. The world is full of temporary treasures, objects people seek, pleasures people idolize.

All are fleeting. All will fail and fall away.

So what remains? His unfailing love. Take refuge in his eternal love.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Make sure you know the signs: Lives can be saved

The British National Health Service in has a lofty goal: reducing the number of stroke deaths in half.

From a Reuters story about this new stroke awareness campaign:
Deaths from strokes can be halved if people recognise the signs of an attack and call an ambulance immediately, the National Health Service said on Monday.

New clot-busting treatments can produce "Lazarus-like" effects and have patients up and about within a day if administered within three hours of a stroke, said Roger Boyle, the National Director for Heart Disease and Stroke.
The National Health Service posts great information, including specifics about the signs of a stroke. The agency uses the F.A.S.T. acronym:
  • Face: Has their face drooped or look fallen on one side? Can they smile?
  • Arms: Can the person raise both arms?
  • Speech: Can the person speak clearly and understand what other people are saying?
  • Time: Time to call 999 (blogger's note: in the U.S., of course, that would be 911) if you see one or more of these signs.
And that's the bottom line. Even if you're uncertain, call for help. Life is in the balance.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

'I will sing of your strength'

From Korea 2006

But I will sing of your strength,
in the morning I will sing of your love;
for you are my fortress,
my refuge in times of trouble.

These days, it seems, we are "in times of trouble."

But consider the words above.

Even in our weakest times, God's strength is behind us. When we struggle with our own problems, we can find comfort in God's love.

God is, indeed, our fortress. In that, hope is available to us all. And for that, thank the Lord.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Prompt care means better outcome

Fewer lasting effects, shorter hospital stays, lower costs.

Not a bad deal.

A recent study in The Lancet Neurology spells out that it seems prompt treatment of transient ischemic attack (TIA, or mini-stroke) patients means fewer problems, including additional strokes.

Now, that's good news.

From a MedPage Today article:
Urgent care was associated with an estimated savings of about $890 per patient, which, if extrapolated to the entire population of the U.K., could yield savings of nearly $100 million in acute care costs per year, the researchers said.

"In addition," they said, "the reductions in disability rates at six months might lead to a reduction in the long-term usage of the health service in the community."
So, as stated: prompt, good care means less change of another stroke, fewer patients becoming disabled, lower costs. It follows that it's important if you are in a position to help a stroke victim, you must help that person to get proper care.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Smoke? A stroke waiting to happen

Not a shocking conclusion: The more you smoke, the more likely you are to suffer a stroke.

The researchers in this study showed that the number of cigarettes a person smokes per day predicts their stroke risk. In other words, the more someone smokes, the more likely he is to suffer a stroke.

Smoke? Stop. Give it up. Do it now. Your life could be in the balance.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Bearing with one another in love

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

I pity the people who consciously decide to avoid going to church. Have heard all the excuses and, in years past, have used a few.

But to the bottom line, as a stroke survivor: When I needed fellow Christians, they carried me with love through recovery and beyond.

Church is not the most important thing in the world, by any means - God is the ultimate importance. But a good church is a conduit to a better relationship with God. If you haven't found a church home, find the one that helps you build that relationship. In the final analysis, that relationship is what life is about, the reason you - all of us - exist.

In the right place, churchgoers learn from each other and lean on each other. Together, they explore deeper and deeper into faith. They find answers and push into even more complicated questions. Without a support system, we only play in the shallow pools of faith. With fellow believers we can love and trust, we can explore the depths of faith and understanding.

From Korea 2006