Thursday, May 31, 2012

Exercise - a tool to prevent future strokes

One reason that I keep running - aside from my pure and plain addiction - is to prevent future health problems. That includes, experts consistently say, another stroke.

You don't have to run - even gardening would help - but a recent news article reminds us that exercise is a key to preventing more strokes:
"The effects on already damaged tissue can be that much worse," Dr. Mark Gordon, a physiatry physician, told a crowd of stroke survivors and their family members earlier this month as part of National Stroke Awareness Month activities at St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute.
Within five years of having their first stroke, 25 percent of female stroke victims and 50 percent of male victims will have another, Gordon said.
The articles gives some tips to avoid a second (or more) stroke: Exercise every day. Limit your alcohol intake. Lower your blood pressureStop smokingTalk to your doctor. Read the article for more details on most of these.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

As Stroke Awareness Month winds down

A ran across a cool stroke risk test anyone can take - taking pieces of information about you and giving you a very preliminary evaluation of your stroke risk with a new, online stroke assessment tool. Click here to give it a try.

It's from an outfit called HealthONE Stroke Care in Colorado. It looks at your current health, family history and personal history and breaks down your risk as preventable (smoking, for example) and those things you can't control, such as strokes in your family. It might help you make decisions to potential prevent a a stroke.

While this online tool won't take the place of a health care professional, it might help spur some action. After all,  nearly 800,000 Americans will suffer a stroke this year. And many of those individuals cannot identify stroke risk factors or warning signs.

(Image from the National Institutes of Health)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Best part of waking up...

It's dangerous to accept blindly a blanket statement, so read the article with caveats such as "these results apply to the general population only."

Still, as a longtime coffee drinker, it's great to read how coffee reduces risk of stroke, new meta-analysis finds:
Presenting the results at the recent European Society of Hypertension ... European Meeting on Hypertension 2012, Dr. Lanfranco D'Elia (Federico II University of Naples, Italy) told heartwire: "The first message is that coffee intake is not associated with a higher risk of stroke," which he says is reassuring. "Second, the analysis showed that low to moderate intake—one to three cups of coffee per day—was associated with lower risk of stroke in the general population, across a wide range of countries, including some in Europe, the US, and Japan."
However D'Elia stressed that these results apply to the general population only and that findings with regard to coffee intake and risk in those with cardiovascular disease have been conflicting.
(Image from the U.S. Department of Agriculture)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Handy list of stroke symptoms - everyone needs to know

This month is a good time to review stroke symptoms - here's a recent quick list of the symptoms from the Duluth News Tribune:

  • Sudden confusion or trouble speaking
  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness or loss of balance
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause
  • In a news release, the Minnesota Department of Health said 45 percent of Minnesotans don’t know those signs. The health department finds that troubling, because stroke is the third-leading cause of death in Minnesota, with 2,154 deaths reported in 2010. More than 75,000 Minnesotans, or 1.9 percent of adults, reported having had a stroke in their lifetimes.

    Monday, May 21, 2012

    Running forward

    So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.
    I feel for Peter for the moment depicted above. Yes, Peter ran slowly – I suppose he was the oldest, and people my age do eventually slow down.

    But consider Peter's situation at the moment. In the previous mention of Peter in John's Gospel, he had betrayed Jesus not once, not twice, but three times - as predicted. Then, Jesus - his mentor, friend and Lord - was tortured and savagely killed.

    Still, Peter ran. He ran forward that day and he ran forward to lead the rise of Christ followers. Peter ran forward despite his weakness and despair. And his acts echo to this day.

    How many times do we face challenges? Stroke recovery, for example, can be a seemingly endless struggle.

    With God's help, we can run forward.

    There was a best-selling book a few years ago titled “Born to Run.” Are we all supposed to run? For some, it’s physically impossible. Some people don’t find it appealing at all. But we all can run forward with Christ. The author of Hebrews did not mean physical running when he wrote some of my favorite words:
    Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

    Tuesday, May 15, 2012

    A quiz for Stroke Awareness Month

    Many - even most - strokes are preventable by reducing the stroke risk factors.

    For Stroke Awareness Month, check out this quiz from the American Heart Association:
    Test your stroke I.Q. by answering these six questions. By knowing the stroke risk factors and symptoms, you can make a difference in your life or someone else's.

    Thursday, May 10, 2012

    Note to hospitals: Time = brain

    In my searching for stroke awareness stories this month, found this brief, related item about how stroke imaging is still not always timely:
    According to an analysis of 40,777 patients from hospitals participating in the "Get With the Guidelines -- Stroke" program from 2003 to 2009, only 41% were imaged within 25 minutes, the American Heart Association recommended time, according to Adam G. Kelly, MD, from the University of Rochester in Rochester, N.Y., and colleagues.
    Patients who received imaging within the recommended time frame were more likely to receive thrombolytic therapy (63% versus 38%), researchers reported online in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

    Tuesday, May 08, 2012

    Anniversary: A good day

    Fourteen years ago today, I was in a hospital room, struggling to speak and unable to move my right leg or arm.

    This morning, I ran 40 minutes, told my wife I love her, and headed to work.

    I'd count today as a good day. Usual struggles - human condition and all - but a good day. Can I count on tomorrow? No. But I know I can count on God.

    'Joggers' tend to live longer, happer

    As people who've visited this blog before know, I'm a longtime runner. It's pretty clear the people who did the study I'm about to quote aren't runners. Thus the term "joggers" and "jogging" throughout the report.

    The new study out says that joggers live longer, possibly happier,lives:
    And that longer life is often a happier life, he said, since joggers reported an overall sense of well-being.
    "This is definitely good news, especially for those who have questioned whether simply jogging could be beneficial," said Ian Graham, MD, of Dublin's Trinity College, who co-chaired the program committee for the meeting.
    "The results of our research allow us to definitively answer the question of whether jogging is good for your health," Schnohr said in a prepared statement. "We can say with certainty that regular jogging increases longevity. The good news is that you don't actually need to do that much to reap the benefits."
    Why "jogging" instead of the more commonly used "running" is unclear. I believe that "jogging" is the term used by people who still live back in the 1960s or early '70s.

    All kidding aside, I'm convinced that running helped me survive my stroke, and running has greatly reduced my stroke risk. Whether it's run or walk, swim or bike, or any number of other good exercise regimens - keep it up. The life you save could be your own.

    Tuesday, May 01, 2012

    Stroke awareness - a year-round mission

    Today marks the beginning of Stroke Awareness Month. As a longtime journalist, I've always been pummeled with press releases, announcements and so on with Such-and-such Awareness Month or Week or Day.

    However, this one is personal. So I'll mark this month once again with articles, news and occasional Scripture as part of Stroke Awareness Month. It's not a big-dollar campaign (as many special months are) but my own little effort to bring awareness of stroke signs and symptoms, and stroke prevention.

    The U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention reports that almost 1 million strokes happen in a given year in the United States. That alone should make stroke awareness as a priority.

    So please, if you read this, please humor me. Better yet, help someone else become aware of what to do if a stroke happens. And keep it up. May is Stroke Awareness Month, but strokes pay no attention to the calendar.