Monday, June 27, 2011

'Your right hand upholds me'

On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
your right hand upholds me.

"Right hand."

I remember the day, as if were just yesterday, when my own right hand wouldn't move. Had no feeling. Was useless.

Yet today, my right hand is typing. Last night, my right hand helped with routine work installing an electrical outlet and light switch. My right hand turns a steering wheel, carries groceries and does thousands of other day-to-day tasks.

The Psalm passage above, referencing the right hand of God, made me think of my own right hand and what happened to it. I thought of it this way: When my own right hand was useless, God's right hand upheld me.

Stroke is the most common reason for permanent disability, including the disability of the human hand. That's one reason why it's so important to work on stroke prevention, recognizing symptoms and know what action to take when you see those signs. Will everyone regain complete use of a hand? No. Will everyone rely on God's right hand, as the Psalmist described God's power? Yes.

(Image using photo by woodley wonderworks, via Wikimedia Commons; text added)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Olive oil linked to stroke prevention?

Interesting research reported - maybe something to consider in your own diet...

Olive oil linked to reduced stroke risk:
In the new study, seniors who regularly used this healthy monounsaturated fat had a 41% lower risk of stroke compared to their counterparts who never used olive oil.

“This is the first study to suggest that greater consumption of olive oil may lower risk of stroke in older subjects, independently of other beneficial foods found in the Mediterranean diet,” study author Cecilia Samieri, PhD, with the University of Bordeaux and the National Institute of Health and Medical Research in Bordeaux, France, says in an email.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Encouraging news about preventing second strokes

If you've had a stroke, or know someone whose lived through one, you know that a second stroke can carry serious danger.

So using statins - drugs normally used to control cholesterol - might help, according to an article about research on statins preventing second strokes in high-risk groups:
Statins reduce recurrent stroke risk in patients with type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome despite the higher risk of cardiovascular events and recurrent stroke in these populations, researchers found.
As always, consult your doctor - be an advocate.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Exercise and stroke prevention

Prevent a stroke - and you can save your life.

For the next few weeks, I want to focus on news and ideas on stroke prevention. Here's one that we can all take advantage of - a WebMD story on how moderate exercise may cut risk of "silent" stroke
People who reported engaging in moderate to intense exercise were 40% less likely to have the lesions than people who did not exercise at all, even after the researchers took into account other stroke risk factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Regular light exercise, such as golf, walking, bowling, or dancing did not appear to decrease the risk for silent stroke, but study researcher and stroke specialist Joshua Willey, MD, says these activities clearly benefit health.

Willey is an assistant professor of neurology at Columbia University.

"I would not want these findings to discourage people from walking or performing other light exercise," he tells WebMD. "But it may be that a certain level of exercise frequency and intensity is needed to lower silent stroke risk."

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Canada and stroke awareness

While Stroke Awareness Month in the United States was in May, our northern neighbor marks Stroke Awareness Month in June, according to CTV News:
June is Stroke Awareness Month across Canada. Strokes are the leading cause of adult disability and the third leading cause of death in Saskatchewan. That's why the Heart and Stroke Foundation is spending this upcoming month urging Saskatchewan residents, especially women, to educate themselves about the prevention and warning signs of stroke.
Despite all the efforts of government agencies, nonprofits and others, many people are not aware of stroke signs and symptoms, and what to do if someone is having a stroke. Awareness has a long way to go.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Yoga and balance

Personally, I'm not into yoga. Then again, maybe I should be. My own stroke didn't leave me with balance issues, but that is a very common occurrence. Stroke is the leading cause of permanent disability, and often, balance is affected.
WebMD recently reported that yoga may improve balance of stroke patients:
The study shows stroke survivors who participated in a specialized post-stroke yoga class improved their balance by up to 34%.

Researchers say the participants also experienced a big boost in their own self-confidence after their yoga practice and became more physically active in their communities.

"It also was interesting to see how much the men liked it," says researcher Arlene A. Schmid, assistant professor of occupational therapy in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, in a news release.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Treatment better - but improvement needed

As a tPA recipient in 1998 - I live the value of this treatment every day. It must be used properly, of course, but it is used far less than it should be used. The latest...

More stroke patients get clot-busting drug but barriers remain:

Acute ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot cuts off blood supply to the brain. Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is the only thrombolytic (clot-dissolving) drug approved to treat this type of stroke in the United States, and it can stave off death and lasting disability, but only if it is administered within 3 to 4.5 hours of stroke onset.

"Overall, tPA treatment rates are improving, but the proportion of ischemic stroke patients receiving the therapy remains very small," said study author Dr. Opeolu Adeoye, an assistant professor of emergency medicine and neurosurgery at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio. "The delayed hospital arrival in the majority of stroke patients is probably the most important factor contributing to low treatment rates."

The findings are published June 2 in the journal Stroke.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Concerns about the stroke care gaps

The American Heart Association recently highlighted a disturbing and continuing trend about racial, ethnic gap in stroke care:
In a scientific statement, the AHA notes that stroke is more common among African-Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, and Alaskan Natives than among whites.

The AHA calls for raising awareness of stroke factors and the need for urgent treatment, increasing access to insurance coverage in minority populations, and doing more research on the roots of racial and ethnic disparities in stroke care. ...

Stroke is more likely if you have risk factors including high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity, and a history of peripheral artery disease (PAD), carotid artery disease, or certain types of heart disease.

Several of those risk factors are more common in minority groups than among whites.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Challenges in the Southern states

Cognitive decline is higher in Southern Stroke Belt:
People who live in the Stroke Belt are more likely to develop cognitive decline, according to new data from a long-running University of Alabama at Birmingham study. It’s hoped that linking cognitive decline to stroke-risk factors could lead to stroke prevention.

People living in this eight-state region, defined by a risk of stroke death higher than in the rest of the nation, are at 18 percent higher risk of developing incident cognitive impairment, which includes failing memory and processing thoughts more slowly, says the study author in the May 27, 2011, online issue of the Annals of Neurology, the official journal of the American Neurological Association.