Tuesday, May 31, 2011

For this stroke survivor, recovery has been slow

A note to end Stroke Awareness Month - an uplifting story about a man in Massachusetts and his struggle in recovery - for the last 10 years. Watch and learn.

Stroke survivor's journey back:
Larry Woodberry talks about his experience recovering from a stroke he had 10 years ago. Woodberry had to re-learn everything from speaking to holding a cup.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Good news: Recurring stroke rate declines

Despite the topic here, a stroke-dedicated blog is NOT a downer - here's some encouraging recent news about how the recurrent stroke, vascular event rate on decline during past 50 years:
During a 50-year span, the annual event rate of strokes and major vascular events declined by roughly 1% per decade each, according to an analysis of nearly 60 secondary prevention trials.

Monday, May 23, 2011

'Endurance and encouragement'

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
For the last seven months, I've had some serious back problems - pain, sometimes searing pain, has certainly challenged my endurance as a runner and encouragement in general.

I also must admit that much of the time, I do not like to ask for help. And this self-reliance attitude can serve well, in some ways. But when it comes down to it, we all need help for endurance and encouragement.

Paul's word is a great reminder that we're here to provide said help to each other.

Friday, May 20, 2011

It's really OK to call for help

During Stroke Awareness Month, a good reminder...

Many say they'd call 911 for stroke signs, but most don't:

In a survey of 253 predominantly African American community volunteers in Washington, DC, 89% said they would call 911 at the first sign of stroke symptoms. However, in structured interviews with 100 hospitalized stroke patients (or proxy respondents) in the same city, only 12% reported actually calling 911 immediately at symptom onset.

The disconnect was "striking" when comparing what healthy participants said they would do hypothetically and what most actually did when faced with stroke symptoms, first study author Amie W. Hsia, MD, director of the Washington Hospital Center Stroke Center in Washington, DC, noted in a statement.

"The failure to act promptly contributes to delayed presentation, reduced opportunity for acute therapy, and greater stroke morbidity," Dr. Hsia and colleagues note in their report. They say further research is needed to "determine and conquer the barriers between behavioral intent and actual behavior to call 911."
(Image from State of Montana 9-1-1 Home Page)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

More stories from stroke survivors

I'm running across more stories, from around the world, about stroke survivors. For Stroke Awareness Month, I'll highlight a few. Today, three stories:

May is National Stroke Awareness Month — know the signs:

I didn’t want to believe it. I always thought strokes were for people in their 70s or 80s, not 42-year-old men. ...

May is National Stroke Awaerness month and it is important to know the signs:

They are — numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg - especially on one side of the body, confusion, trouble speaking or understanding, trouble seeing in one or both eyes, trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, and severe headache with no known cause. More than anything else, don’t hesitate to call 911. It saved my life.

Nearly five years later, God has blessed me with a second chance at life.
I was having a stroke:

While I was in hospital, I did some research from my bed and came across the Irish Heart Foundation website, stroke.ie, which I found very helpful. I was very impressed with its FAST (Face, Arms, Speech, Time) campaign, which raises awareness of the signs of stroke and the need to act fast. Stroke can happen to people of all ages, which is why it’s so important for everybody to be aware of the signs and symptoms.

Woman talks about locked-in syndrome during stroke awareness month

Eight years ago, the then-15-year-old basketball star started feeling dizzy at practice.

"Someone was like, 'Oh my gosh, whats wrong with her?'" she said. Then she started to slur her speech and was rushed to the emergency room.

"It was panic, pure panic. I thought I was going to die," she said.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Spreading stroke awareness ...

These articles list some good info, from strike signs, what to do and stroke prevention.

From The Tennessean in Nashville, every 45 seconds, someone in America will fall victim of a stroke:

Getting help fast is the most important treatment for stroke, call 911.The longer you wait to get treatment, the more brain tissue can become damaged, often leaving permanent disability.
From Brooklyn Eagle, a daily paper in Brooklyn:

“Every second counts in the race to identify and treat stroke,” said Dr. Steven Rudolph, director of the Jaffe Stroke Center at Maimonides Medical Center. “The sooner we can make a diagnosis and start treatment, the more we improve our chances of minimizing damage to the brain. All of us should take a few minutes to learn the warning signs of stroke, so we can help someone we suspect may be experiencing this medical emergency by calling 911 right away.” ...

While some of the risk factors for stroke are hereditary, others are not. This means that each one of us can reduce vulnerability to stroke by being aware of our risk factors, including medical history and personal habits. Some risks can be reduced by living a healthier, more active lifestyle. Dr. Rudolph advises:

• Have your blood pressure checked regularly.
• Eat a varied and balanced diet that relies heavily on vegetables, whole grains, fish, lean meats and fruit.
• Keep your weight under control.
• Monitor your blood cholesterol: you should try to lower the “lousy” kind known as LDL, and increase the “happy” kind known as HDL.
• Get moderate exercise on a regular basis (at least two and a half hours per week).
• Avoid excessive alcohol consumption.
• Quit smoking.
• Consult your doctor if you have a family history of stroke or high blood pressure to determine if you need additional assistance in prevention efforts.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Needed stroke care delivered via robot

This is Stroke Awareness Month, and one issue is the need for stroke care offered to all who need it, no matter where. However, specially trained neurologists are, sadly, not everywhere. One way to combat that challenge is from Washington State.

Robot helper allows for real-time communication to save stroke victims:
Hospitals in outlying areas, such as Ocean Beach Hospital, do not  have a neurologist on staff who could make an assessment within this critical window, and that's where the telestroke robot comes in.

The robot allows neurologists to beam in live to the emergency  department to perform real-time examinations and evaluations of stroke victims. With the remote-controlled robot, equipped with cameras and microphones, consulting doctors can review charts, patient records, diagnostic images such as CAT scans and talk directly to ED physicians, the patient and the patient's family.

"Basically, it's just like having the neurologist right in the  room," said Valerie Mays, Providence's telestroke program coordinator.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mine happened under 40...

Young adults’ beliefs about their health clash with risky behaviors:

Nine out of 10 Americans between ages 18-24 believe they’re living healthy lifestyles — yet most eat too much fast food, drink too many alcoholic and sugar-sweetened beverages and engage in other behaviors that could put them at risk of stroke, according to an American Stroke Association survey released today.

The results are part of a survey of 1,248 Americans ages 18-44 on their attitudes about health, including influences of and beliefs about health behaviors and their risks for stroke.

Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability in America.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Great stroke prevention advice from Consumer Reports

A good resource for Stroke Awareness Month, from Consumer Reports Health, includes a rundown on the latest guidelines for prevention:

"We still have quite a ways to go toward controlling stroke risk factors," says Larry B. Goldstein, M.D., chairman of the group of experts who wrote the new stroke prevention guidelines and director of the Duke Stroke Center in Durham, N.C. "More than two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese and don't get adequate exercise, and only about 7 percent of people age 40 to 59 succeed in meeting the goals for four major cardiovascular risk factors—cholesterol, blood pressure, fasting blood sugar, and smoking."

The guidelines, released online in December 2010, incorporate the latest research and advances in stroke prevention. Here are 11 effective strategies, including medical tactics to take and lifestyle adjustments to make.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

CDC resource for stroke awareness

The Centers Disease Control and Prevention just updated and posted some stroke-related materials for Stroke Awareness Month.

It includes statistics, stroke signs and symptoms, and more. Follow this link for some good resources:
Although most strokes occur in people aged 65 years or older, strokes can occur at any age. For example, a new CDC study, Trends of Acute Ischemic Stroke Hospitalizations in the U.S.: 1994–2007, found that stroke hospitalizations increased among both males and females aged 5–44 years old, raising concern about this young population.

Knowing the symptoms of stroke and calling 9-1-1 immediately if someone appears to be having a stroke are crucial steps in getting prompt emergency medical care for a stroke.  New treatments are available that can reduce the damage caused by a stroke for some victims, but these treatments need to be given soon after the symptoms start.
 (Photo from CDC)