Friday, October 29, 2010

'Carry each others' burdens'

Carry each others' burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Stroke recovery can be a lengthy and heavy burden. Stroke is the leading cause of permanent disability in the United States.

Also carrying a burden: those who provide care of stroke survivors. Today, pray for those who carrying burdens for others - literally fulfilling the law of Christ. There is no higher calling.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Another stroke prevention drug

Atrial fibrillation is a common cause of stroke, as mentioned before. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration just approved a new drug for stroke prevention for those patients. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States and is the leading cause of permanent disability.

FDA approves Pradaxa to prevent stroke in people with atrial fibrillation

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Pradaxa capsules (dabigatran etexilate) for the prevention of stroke and blood clots in patients with abnormal heart rhythm (atrial fibrillation).

Atrial fibrillation, which affects more than 2 million Americans, involves very fast and uncoordinated contractions of the heart’s two upper heart chambers (atria) and is one of the most common types of abnormal heart rhythm.

“People with atrial fibrillation are at a higher risk of developing blood clots, which can cause a disabling stroke if the clots travel to the brain,” said Norman Stockbridge, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Division of Cardiovascular and Renal Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.
 (Image from National Institutes of Health)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Good news: More survivors

Hope this at least partly because of the concerted campaigns to get people to hospitals quickly if they have stroke symptoms.

Death rate from strokes dropped 26% in hospitals:
The rate declined to 92 deaths per 1,000 stroke patients in 2007, from 125 deaths per 1,000 seven years earlier, according to data released today by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The rate for men fell 29 percent compared with 24 percent for women, the figures showed. Fatality figures also receded for heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia, the agency reported.

The numbers reflect advances in the care that patients receive at the hospitals, said Roxanne Andrews, a senior researcher at the agency, part of the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

“Patients are getting to the hospital earlier and maybe patients are a little healthier than they used to be,” Andrews said in a telephone interview. “But the decline does show that patients are getting better treatment partly because the technology for treating patients is getting better.”

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Research shows promise for aphasia patients

Aphasia often strikes those of us who have a stroke. It struck me, and I know that recovery can be frustrating. Some news about a new brain stimulation technique that shows promise for people with aphasia:

Words that once came naturally for even simple objects before the stroke—such as a chair, a pen, or an apple—are suddenly difficult if not impossible to retrieve. Although some people may recover their language skills in time, for others, the effects can be chronically debilitating.

Such differences in patient outcomes have scientists from the University of South Carolina delving deeper into this language disorder—called aphasia—which results when language centers of the brain are damaged by stroke, head injury, or other causes. In new NIDCD-funded research, they’ve demonstrated not only how important the location of the brain damage is in predicting how well a person will respond to aphasia therapy, they are also investigating a new method for stimulating brain-damaged regions in people with aphasia, in hopes of increasing brain plasticity and perhaps improving word recall.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

'...Plans to give you hope and a future.'

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

These words were delivered to exiles in Babylon. Words of hope and promise for the future.

Plans are important. But people often don't like making plans. They often require dull and tedious work. They can be thwarted by outside influence. Even the  best plans can go awry. They are, after all, a product of people. Those imperfect people.

God loves those imperfect people so much, though, that he has plans for those people. The plans were promised those many years ago to those in exile. Does God have plans for you? I'm convinced that he does. He loves you like he loved his exiles.

God has plans to give you hope and a future, too.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

'My soul thirsts for you'

O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.

As a longtime runner, I've been thirsty. Very thirsty.

More important than physical thirst, though, is quenching the thirst for something beyond ourselves. We've all been there - a dry and weary place in our lives, where it seems there is no water.

Better than water, though, is our ultimate thirst quencher, our ultimate electrolyte. God is with you, even in those lands and in those times.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

World Stroke Day: Oct. 29

Oct. 29 is World Stroke Day - marking attention for the third leading cause of death in the United States.

The numbers are sobering. In the U.S., more than 795,000 strokes occur each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The cost in dollars: $73 million. The cost of death and disability is uncountable. It is the leading cause of permanent disability in the United States.  Every six seconds, someone in the world dies from a stroke.

But it's not just numbers. World Stroke Day campaign also highlights the fact that stroke can be prevented and that stroke survivors can recover and regain their quality of life with care and support: To quote the CDC:
The campaign is asking people to commit to six ways to reduce their likelihood of having a stroke.

1. Know one's personal risk factors, including diagnosed high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol.
2. Be physically active and exercise regularly.
3. Avoid obesity by eating a healthy diet with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.
4. Limit alcohol consumption.
5. Avoid cigarette smoke. People who smoke should seek help to stop now.
6. Learn to recognize the warning signs of a stroke and call 9-1-1 right away if someone is suspected of having a stroke.
The links on this list will lead you to other resources and previous postings. Preventing a stroke can prevent the loss of a life or a life of disability.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Better information = better plans

If you or someone you care of is a stroke patient, you want the best plan of care you can get. This recent article, from MedlinePlus, reports another tool that could help better these plans.

New tool helps predict stroke patient's risk of death in hospital:

A new Internet-based tool can more accurately predict stroke patients' risk of dying in the hospital and help their doctors develop better care plans, according to a new Canadian study.

Hospitals also can use the prediction tool to evaluate and improve their patient outcomes, said study author Dr. Eric Smith, assistant professor of neurology at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Aphasia and brain re-wiring

My own struggle with aphasia and recovery included some serious brain re-wiring, speech therapy and simple time.

Now, new research gives some voice to stroke survivors struggling with language issues. The brain is more resilient, more capable of recovery, than previously thought.

Study finds evidence of post-stroke brain recovery:
Julius Fridriksson, a researcher at the University of South Carolina's  Arnold School of Public Health, said the findings offer hope to patients of “chronic stroke,” characterized by the death of cells in a specific area of the brain. The damage results in long-term or permanent disability.

“For years, we heard little about stroke recovery because it was believed that very little could be done,” Fridriksson said. “But this study shows that the adult brain is quite capable of changing, and we are able to see those images now. This will substantially change the treatment for chronic-stroke patients.”

The study, reported in the Sept. 15 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, involved 26 patients with aphasia, a communication disorder caused by damage to the language regions in the brain’s left hemisphere. Aphasia impairs a person’s ability to process language and formulate speech.