Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Apparently successful hole-in-the-heart story

Given my own interest in the possible link between a hole in the heart - also known as a patent foramen ovale or PFO - and stroke, saw some news today about entertainer Bret Michaels leaving an Arizona hospital after his own hole in the heart was repaired:
Valley-based rocker and reality-TV star Bret Michaels has been released from St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix after successful heart surgery.

Michaels, 47, was released after undergoing a successful heart procedure on Monday, Jan. 24, to repair a patent foramen ovale (PFO), a hole in the heart.

"Bret's procedure had excellent results," said Dr. Mansour Assar, interventional cardiologist at St. Joseph's, in a statement. "Because of the successful outcome and Bret's determination, I believe he will be able to return to normal activity within weeks."
Like many people with PFOs who have strokes, Michaels was somewhat young for the stereotypical stroke victim. Although as readers of this blog know, just being young or young-ish doesn't mean you're stroke-proof.

Michaels' procedure  was apparently very similar to mine (link includes a video of my procedure back in 2007) and if his outcome is similar, he'll be back to full speed in several weeks. I had one in in June 2007, started running again that August and finished a marathon less than a year later.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

More reason to avoid a nasty fall: stroke prevention

Falls are a leading cause of hospitalization, especially for the older set. From Reuters Health, this study makes a lot of sense.

Broken hip tied to increased risk of stroke:

The study out of Taiwan found that patients with a broken hip had more than a 50 percent increased risk of having a stroke within a year of their injury compared to similar patients with no fractures. ...

"It is known that the risk of hip fracture is high in those with strokes. We thought that was because strokes lead to falls and bone loss," Dr. Steven Cummings of the University of California, San Francisco, told Reuters Health in an e-mail.

"This new study makes me think that both hip fractures and strokes are partly due to an underlying cause of aging," added Cummings, who was not involved in the current research but recently led a separate study of hip fractures.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Fishy diet comes with lower risk of stroke

A few days ago, fried fish got, sadly, a deserved minus mark in an article about how people living in areas that serve a lot of fried fish tend to have more strokes.

Now, good news about fish and stroke risks, from Reuters Health - fishy diet comes with lower risk of stroke:
Women who eat more than three servings of fish per week are less likely to experience a stroke, a new study suggests.

Specifically, fish-lovers in Sweden were 16 percent less likely to experience a stroke over a 10-year-period, relative to women who ate fish less than once a week.

"Fish consumption in many countries, including the U.S., is far too low, and increased fish consumption would likely result in substantial benefits in the population," said Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian of the Harvard School of Public Health, who reviewed the findings for Reuters Health.

Common sense? Yes, but too often, people, me included, don't listen to common sense. However, I'm guessing they're not talking about fried catfish, my favorite food.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

'The old has gone, the new is here!'

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
As the Christmas season is ending, the gift of God's new creation remains. We can constantly celebrate God's gift that reminds us that "The old is gone, new new is here!"

Enjoy being part of God's new creation.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Educate yourself about key stroke treatment

Not long ago, finished reading a book about a subject near and dear to my.... brain:

tPA for Stroke: The Story of a Controversial Drug, written by Justin A. Zivin, M.D. Ph.D, and John Galbraith Simmons traces the history - and the initial reluctance of  acceptance of the drug for stroke patients - of the drug I'm convinced prevented my serious disability or even death.

I came into a hospital unable to speak, write or move the right side of my body. Last Saturday, I ran 10 miles. I can speak and, some say, write. Would I have recovered to this degree anyway? Doubtful. While my physical impairments went away quickly, it took several weeks of speech therapy to recover my reading/writing skills to get back to work. I dread what would have happened without  tPA - tissue plasminogen activator - involved in my care. In a few postings, I've called it the Lazarus effect..

The book walks through a couple of cases in particular - one stroke victim receiving tPA and the other one not - with striking differences. Sadly, while stroke centers are appearing across the United States, tPA is still not widely known in public circles. And if it's now well known, it's harder to be an effective advocate for a stroke victim who can't speak. The medication can only be used in a certain window of time, and the patient needs some imaging and exam to make sure it's the right drug. So time is critical.

Take a read of this book and you'll arm yourself with key knowledge. Every year, about 800,000 people have a stroke in the United States. The book could very well help you save a life - someone you love, or even your own.

To quote the book listing on Amazon:

Without warning stroke can paralyze, blind, or kill. Some victims recover, but many do not and may even suffer another disabling or fatal attack. The drug known as tPA can drastically reduce the long-term disability associated with stroke, but despite its near-miraculous capabilities and the growing support of most neurologists, it has been slow to win acceptance as the standard of care in emergency departments nationwide.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

For fried fish, go for moderation

This is sad news to me, even though it's not a big shocker. My favorite food: fried catfish. Part of my Southern upbringing.

However, it's inarguable that eating a lot of fried fish is not a good healthy choice and for many, many people, it leads to a higher stroke risk. No question.

If, like me, you can't live without it, go with moderation. Here's one of the stories, from USA Today, about a study showing how stroke deaths are higher where fried fish aplenty:
A study published in today's Neurology shows people living in the stroke belt — which comprises North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas and Louisiana — eat more fried fish and less non-fried fish than people living in the rest of the country, and African-Americans eat more fried fish than Caucasians.

"Differences in dietary fish consumption, specifically in cooking methods, may be contributing to higher rates of stroke in the stroke belt and also among African Americans," says study author Fadi Nahab, medical director for the Stroke Program at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.