Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Common sense, standards help guide health screenings

It seems like a good idea - screening for stroke risks.

However, Jeff Baillon of KMSP-TV in Minneapolis-St. Paul reports that screening isn't as simple as it seems. There are actual government guidelines for tests cited in this piece aired not long ago.

Watch and learn:

Thursday, September 24, 2009

'No longer an affliction of old age'

Something I've preached from time to time on this blog, here's yet another piece of information that confirms it: Even if you're not elderly, be aware of stroke signs and symptoms, and try to reduce your stroke risks. It can happen at any age, so read it and act:

Stroke may be striking at a younger age:
"Stroke is no longer an affliction of old age," said lead researcher Timothy J. Wolf, an instructor of occupational therapy and neurology and investigator for the Cognitive Rehabilitation Research Group at Washington University School of Medicine, in St. Louis. "People in the working ages of life are having strokes with greater regularity than ever before."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Facing survival post-stroke

A story about a Texas stroke survivor:

His advice for stroke survivors is simple - think positively and remember; you have to have a sense of humor about the situation.

"When I tell other stroke patients my story, I tell them, don't give up," he said. "You don't have to sit in your chair and waste away. Get up and do what you have to do in order to get over these things and you will get over it. It might take a long time, it's not easy, but you will do it."

Keep in mind that the "it" will be different for every stroke survivor. And as the survivor says - we're not talking about making recovery simple or easy.

Still, the sentiment is there. If you are a stroke survivor, you can make a difference, small or large.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Leaves football but not stroke awareness

Tedy Bruschi has an amazing and inspiring story - veteran linebacker for the new England Patriots, a stroke survivor who came back and played the game again, announced his retirement not long ago.

His retirement, that is, from professional football, but not the even more important task - promoting the cause of stroke awareness. From the Boston Herald:
“To see someone go through it the way he did was really inspirational,” said Katie Jerdee, 22, a stroke survivor and soccer player at Northeastern University. “People could see it happens to young people and they can overcome it and they can return to what they were doing before,” added Jerdee, who raised $10,000 for stroke awareness running two Boston Marathons on Tedy’s Team.

The 36-year-old linebacker announced his retirement yesterday, after 13 seasons with the Patriots [team stats]. Bruschi suffered a stroke in February 2005 and went on to play four more seasons and to champion the cause of stroke awareness through legislative lobbying, public service campaigns and a book, “Never Give Up.”
(Image from Flickr)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Despite some progress, disparities remain

This article by Reuters Health illustrates how strokes can impact. Despite age or race, this problem impacts us all, and we're all better off if we all work to reduce stroke risks:

Strokes in young blacks drain South Carolina's pocket:

In South Carolina, African Americans suffer strokes at younger ages and have worse outcomes than Caucasians, Dr. Wayne Feng and colleagues report in the latest issue of the medical journal Stroke.

They point out that in their state, lifetime costs for strokes that occurred in 2006 alone, including lost earnings, are likely to total $1.92 billion.

The persistent racial disparities in stroke "result in significant economic consequences to the state, particularly among younger patients," the researchers conclude.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Stroke survivors - watch out for falls

A recent study warns of the risk of falls - Stroke doubles risk of hip, thigh fractures:

The study compared 6,763 people in the Netherlands who had fractures of the hip and/or femur with a group of 26,341 people matched for age, gender and location who had no such fractures. The overall risk of fractures was 1.96 times higher for all stroke survivors and 2.12 times higher among women who had strokes.

The youngest stroke survivors, those 70 or younger, had the highest risk: 5.12 times normal, the researchers found.

The study was not designed to give information about the reasons for the age difference, but "we believe that in elderly patients, the relative contribution of risk factors other than stroke is higher," [lead study author Frank de] Vries said.
There are some well-known, common-sense methods to help prevent a fall - the right shoes and a cane or other assistive device, for example. If you're an advocate for a stroke survivor, or a stroke survivor yourself, take steps to reduce the risk.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Strokes in rural America

Always had a soft spot for rural places, being a small-town boy from Arkansas...

Providence wants to help treat stroke victims via high-speed Internet:
Providence neurologist, Nicholas Okon says many rural clinics don’t have a team of stroke experts, and flying a patient by helicopter or driving by ambulance takes time.

Nicholas Okon: “There’s only one FDA approved treatment for a stroke, and it’s an IV medicine that has to be given within three hours of the stroke symptoms beginning. So if they present to a facility that doesn’t have a neurologist or expertise in providing this medicine, they may not have that opportunity.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Wanted: Recognition of stroke symptoms

Not good news: A large number of older people don't know the signs of a stroke.

As reported not long ago, only 54 percent of older people said slurred speech indicated a stroke. And that was the most commonly recognized sign. Furthermore:
Researchers from Dublin, Ireland, questioned 2,033 older men and women.

They found that fewer than half knew that dizziness, numbness, weakness, and headache were common warning signs of stroke.

Dr. Anne Hickey of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and colleagues also found that only 54% of participants listed slurred speech as an indicator of stroke.
What are the signs? Here they are, from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke:
  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg (especially on one side of the body)
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause
And just one sign is enough. I never had a headache. Another stroke survivor never had a speech problem. Vision might or might not be affected. Again: One sign is enough. A stroke can hit the young or old.

What to do? If you have one of these symptoms, or if you are with someone who is showing a sign, get help immediately. Don't wait. Get that person to an emergency room (but don't, of course, drive yourself). Call 911.