Thursday, December 24, 2009

The world gets the 'Lazarus effect'

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."

Not long ago, I heard a presentation by one of the doctors responsible for making tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) available to stroke patients.

In my own 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."

It made me think of the story of Lazarus - see above - in John's gospel. There, a dead man regained his life. Once there was no hope. His sisters, relatives and friends knew they lost him. Jesus entered. Hope returned. Lazarus lived.

How about this world? On a cold night so long ago, a world needed this Lazarus effect. Today, this world needs it as well. On that first Christmas, God gave the world the Lazarus effect: a new beginning, a new covenant, a new life. Today, you can receive your own Lazarus effect.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Perhaps soon - a safer blood thinner

From a U.S. News and World Report article not long ago:

New blood thinner could replace warfarin
The new study, published early online Dec. 6 by the New England Journal of Medicine, follows on the heels of two other promising reports presented at the American Heart Association meeting in Orlando, Fla., last month. Those studies found that dabigatran appeared safe and effective in preventing blood clots when patients were treated for acute coronary syndrome, a cluster of symptoms that might indicate a heart attack; it was also found superior to warfarin in preventing strokes in patients with the irregular heartbeat known as atrial fibrillation.

In the new trial, warfarin and dabigatran seemed to perform equally well in helping patients with potentially dangerous clots in their veins avoid a subsequent clot or death over the next six months.

But it is in its ease of use that the newer drug appears to outshine warfarin, the authors of this latest study say.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A story near to my heart - or brain...

Heard this on NPR Monday morning, during my typical 40-minute run in my neighborhood. It includes a story about one woman's stroke, how time was critical and what we can all learn from it.

Back in 1998, I was blessed to receive tPA, a clot-busting drug. Most, as this report notes, are not quite so fortunate. Read, listen and learn:

Drug can stop strokes, but most patients don't get it
Strokes are the third-ranking cause of death and the leading cause of disability. But most stroke specialists think it doesn't have to be so bad.

The vast majority of strokes are caused by a clot that blocks blood flow to part of the brain. Depending on where, victims suffer dizziness, weakness, numbness, loss of speech or other symptoms. Most of the time, the damage is permanent.

Since 1996 there's been an approved drug called t-PA (for tissue plasminogen activator) that, according to some big studies, can often break up the clot, restore blood flow and prevent much permanent damage —- if the drug is given within a few hours of symptom onset.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Remember: Take that medicine!

Are stroke survivors taking their medicine?
People who have had an ischemic stroke are at higher lifetime risk for another stroke, but several types of medication can reduce that risk. One of the simplest regimens involves antithrombotic medications, otherwise known as blood thinners, of which the most common is aspirin.

But a new UCLA study to determine whether the use of antithrombotic medications among stroke survivors increased over a seven-year period found that in each of the years, approximately 20 percent of survivors were not taking these medications — a figure that did not decrease during the time period. The study also found that individuals who were younger, female or Hispanic were less likely to be taking antithrombotic agents.

The findings appear in the January 2010 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
(Image from National Library of Medicine)

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

'I am the bread of life'

Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty."

And of course, "hungry" and "thirsty" aren't limited to the literal - who isn't hungry for answers after a stroke, or thirsty for relief of the stress that can stroke to a stroke survivor or a caregiver.

Last Sunday, we had communion at Community United Methodist Church in Columbia, Mo. The bread and drink were in no way able to relieve any literal, physical hunger or thirst. But it brought to our attention the more important matters of feeding the soul.

If you don't have a church home, find a place that helps feed your own soul.

(Image from rthmhlds on Photobucket)

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Pays to take preventive measures

Medical news: Southern 'Stroke Belt' maintains its grip
Although stroke mortality in the handful of Southern states with the morbid nickname decreased from 1980 to 2000, people born in the region and living there as adults still had a one-third greater risk than the general population, researchers reported in the December issue of Neurology.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Learn from these just-found videos

Words from Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth (a great city!). The speaker is Roger Blair, M.D., a neurologist on medical staff:

And from a two-month initiative, administered through the Virginia Department of Health and made possible with a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: