Friday, August 31, 2012

'An ever-present help in trouble'

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.

Refuge. Strength. Help.


Who hasn't seen trouble? Some days, trouble seems to permeate a life, with struggles, setbacks and disappointment. Stroke survivors know too well how recovery can see progress one day, trouble the next.

But even in days of trouble,God is with us. Bring your needs for refuge and strength to God. You are never alone, never without help.

Will trouble magically vanish? Perhaps not. But with God's strength and help - and often, human help provided by God - you can find a refuge in your journey and strength to continue it.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Inexpensive drug goes through stroke prevention trial

Many more people write much  better about clinical trials than I do, so I don't do it very often.

However, I was a bit surprised by an article I ran across an upcoming trial about the drug methotrexate for stroke prevention. Why? In at least one of its form, it's cheap. I have a relative who took  it for rheumatoid arthritis, and the cost was nominal.

So, I hope there is some success in the use of this potentially inexpensive medication. Not a bad idea to check back on its progress from time to time, especially through your own doctor.

Here's a link to a MedPage Today article and a small excerpt:
"We believe that the concept of reducing inflammation has enormous potential as a new method to reduce the burden of heart attack and stroke for our patients," Ridker said in a press release.
Selection of the planned 350 to 400 sites for the trial is to begin in November, with patient recruitment in the U.S. and Canada to get under way in March 2013, according to an NHLBI statement.
Methotrexate, an antifolate drug, has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. It's the standard disease-modifying drug for rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. At higher doses, the drug suppresses cell proliferation and is used to treat various cancers.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

'You are worth more than many sparrows'

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Lately, I've been collecting some Bible verses that speak to me for this blog. The Luke passage above talks about your importance to God.

Many people who know me also know I'm a fan of the BBC program Doctor Who. I even own a sonic screwdriver.

Several months ago, I saw an episode that spoke to me, too. The Doctor is in a room with a cranky old man and a young women who is in a coma-like state. The Doctor studies and stares at the woman. The cranky man asks why - telling the Doctor that the woman is unimportant.

The Doctor ends his reply with "I've never seen anyone unimportant before" - or words to that effect.

If only we all had that attitude. God certainly offers that relationship with you - to God, we're all VIPs.

(Photo from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Saving stroke patients in Arkansas

Being born and raised in Arkansas, I have to mention an article about a federal grant for the state Department of Health to improve stroke prevention and outcomes.

The KARK-TV story about saving stroke patients in Arkansas also had some sobering information:
Arkansas has ranked first among the states in the stroke death rate for five of the last 10 years, and is now ranked second in the United States, based on data from 2009, the most recent available. Each year, it is estimated that more than 795,000 Americans suffer from a stroke, about 25 percent of those who are 40 years of age or older die at the time of the stroke or soon after. Among the survivors, some 15 - 30 percent remain permanently disabled.
By 2023, it is estimated that the total indirect and direct costs associated with strokes in Arkansas will be $1.19 billion if improvements are not made in the management of the diseases that cause strokes.
Strokes can disable, kill and cost billions. Preventing a stroke: Priceless.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Air pollution and strokes

This isn't the first blog posting about the potential link between air pollution and strokes, but  ran across yet another article about research on air pollution - including indoor smoking - and how air pollution, heart disease and stroke:

Pollution can come from traffic, factories, power generation, wildfires or even cooking with a wood stove. One of the most common indoor sources is smoking — a danger to the person lighting up and to those nearby.
 “There are a wide variety of things in the air. Some are natural, some are manmade,” said Russell Luepker, M.D., a cardiologist and the Mayo professor in the School of Health at the University of Minnesota. “We are all exposed, to a certain degree.”
Acute short-term effects of air pollution tend to strike people who are elderly or already struggling with heart disease, said Dr. Luepker, who is also an epidemiologist.
For instance, someone with atherosclerosis, or build up of fatty deposits on the inner lining of the arteries, experiences immediate trouble when pollutants play a role in causing plaque in a blood vessel to rupture, triggering a heart attack.
“This kind of pushes them over the cliff,” Dr. Luepker said.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Awesome treatment: Walking

Walking is one of the best "medicines" anyone can take. It can be habit-forming - for the good. Walking - and other exercise - can help prevent strokes and a myriad of other health problems.

Not long ago, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released some survey information about walking activities. More people are walking, but not yet enough, says a MedPage Today article:
Still, walking is a "wonder drug" that can prevent a variety of maladies from diabetes to cancer, CDC director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, said during a phone call with reporters.
"I would say there's no single drug that can do anything like what regular physical activity does," Frieden said.
The data come from the CDC's 2005 and 2010 National Health Interview Surveys, and Frieden said the increase in walking prevalence was seen across almost all demographic groups.
Yet only 48% of Americans are meeting 2008 guidelines that recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, per week, and a third of Americans said they don't get any physical activity at all.
(Photo from CDC) 

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Red meat - moderation, moderation

I'm a big believer in moderation: No huge food portions. Social drinking at most. No overtraining for running. Limit sweets. And, of course, moderate red meat intake.

So no surprise in this recent article from MedPage Today about research into the link of red meat and stroke risk:
Each one-serving-per-day increase in fresh, processed, and total red meat intake was associated with an 11% to 13% relative increase in the risk of all strokes, driven by an increase in the risk of ischemic stroke, according to Joanna Kaluza, PhD, of the Warsaw University of Life Sciences in Poland, and colleagues.
There was, however, no relationship between red meat consumption and hemorrhagic stroke risk, the researchers reported online in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.
The findings are "of great public health importance because of the widespread consumption of red meat and the high morbidity and mortality associated with stroke," Kaluza and colleagues wrote.
Now, I have no plans to avoid red meat entirely. But clearly, it's important to control red meat intake.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

'God turns my darkness into light'

You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.
A not-long-ago posting referred to light, as in an image screen at the hospital where began my stroke recovery.

So I ran across this verse a few days ago and had to add this to my collection. "Turns my darkness into light" is pretty powerful. Darkness - fear, hopelessness, despair. Light - hope, strength, love.

Is the light going to erase all problems? Oh, I wish. But God's light can shine and help all of us find a way through our struggles - with hope, spiritual strength and God's love.