Thursday, January 31, 2013

Cannabis, strokes linked? Perhaps

I'd never heard about this supposed connection until I ran across the article about how cannabis-related stroke is not a myth:

They add that in many cases the strokes appeared to have occurred while the drug was actually being smoked or within half an hour of smoking ... .
Wolff said that although there are only these few cases of documented stroke associated with cannabis use, this is probably just the tip of the iceberg. "Nobody is looking for it, and if you don't look you won't find it. Neurologists are not thinking about cannabis as a possible cause of stroke, so they don't ask patients about it."

In fact, the Heartwire article continues, cannabis - aka marijuana - use should be considered a stroke risk factor, according to the study. Check out the entire article to read about the complexities of any link.

(Photo from U.S. National Library of Medicine)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

'Same yesterday and today and forever'

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
One of my favorite verses.When life hands you a struggle, it's good to remember.

He was with me in the past, when darkness surrounded me. He is with me today. He will be with me tomorrow, no matter what it brings.

No matter how life circumstances or the world will change, he'll be with you, too.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Aphasia patients can improve long after stroke

I wasn't exactly a "senior" when my stroke happened, but I did suffer with aphasia, affecting my reading and speaking. It took therapy and time to bring me back to a somewhat previous level.

So I was interested in the small item about a study looking how therapy can help long after a stroke. My own speech abilities showed improvement long after, even without therapy. Here's a link to the story about how therapy can still benefit older, long-time aphasia sufferers, study shows:
"We have shown that language therapy has a positive impact even long time after stroke, and not only on language but also on general cognition, as shown by the positive changes in the default network," said researcher Ana Ines Ansaldo in a statement. "My hope is that these findings will change clinical attitudes towards seniors who suffer from language disorders, by providing intensive, specific and focused stimulation for these patients."
The study appears in the journal Brain and Language.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Blacks missing out on critical early treatment for strokes

The reasons are unclear, but an important story recently highlighted how blacks are missing out on critical early treatment for strokes:
The study found that on average it took 339 minutes for Blacks to visit the emergency room for stroke treatment as opposed to 151 minutes for Whites. Delaying treatment can result in the death of vital brain cells.
“It has been estimated that nearly two million neurons die per minute during a stroke,” said Sheryl Martin-Schild, M.D., Ph.D., the study’s lead author. “Intravenous tissue plasminogen activator (IV tPA) is the only treatment during the acute phase of a stroke, the first 4.5 hours, proven to improve outcome in controlled clinical trials.” Because IV tPA treatment breaks down the clots that obstruct blood flow inside the brain, delaying treatment within that narrow time frame puts patients at greater risk of permanent neurological damage.

The study, which followed 368 patients with a median age of 65 years, sought to identify racial disparities and the reasons for varying delays between symptom onset and emergency room treatment. While the study found that Blacks and Whites received the same treatment once they arrived at the emergency room, reasons for the delay were not clear.
Time is critical. If you or someone in your presence seem to have stroke signs, get that person help right away.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The youngest stroke victims

I considered myself as relatively young when my stroke occurred. I was 39. But click on this recent article and learn about even younger stroke victims:
Sacha, Derek, and Andrew had all had strokes. Sacha was 11; Derek was 17; Andrew was 14.
Their parents were incredulous. Like most people, they were shocked to learn that children - their children - could be struck by a condition associated with the elderly.
The numbers are growing, according to a recent study of hospital records from 1995 to 2008 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It revealed a "concerning" 30 percent rise in the incidence of ischemic stroke, those caused by blood clots to the brain, in boys and girls between 5 and 14.
My intention of mentioning this story isn't to needlessly frighten people, but to say that it's important for everyone to know the stroke signs.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Walking linked to fewer strokes in women

I've espoused exercise for years. Now, new research added more strength to the argument for exercise, especially among women. This story reports that walking is linked to fewer strokes in women:

"The message for the general population remains similar: regularly engaging in moderate recreational activity is good for your health," lead author José María Huerta of the Murcia Regional Health Authority in Spain told Reuters Health.
Past studies have also linked physical activity to fewer strokes, which can be caused by built-up plaque in arteries or ruptured blood vessels in the brain.
... Women who walked briskly for 210 minutes or more per week had a lower stroke risk than inactive women but also lower than those who cycled and did other higher-intensity workouts for a shorter amount of time.
Be sure to click on the link above and check out the whole story.

Walking is cheap and easy exercise for most, and is a great way to start an exercise regimen. You can start at the distance, time and speed that is comfortable, and move from there. And as always, if you're starting an exercise program, check with your health professional first!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

'He will make your paths straight'

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
If you've read this blog before, you know I'm a runner. These days - early January - it's dark most of the time I run during weekdays. I wear a headlamp to light the trail I use, but it's still dark and hard to see. And I can't see at all in a distance or to the side of my path.

So I can definitely appreciate a straight (and smooth) path.

And it's true in life in general. Often, even if things seem a bit dim to this human mind, if I keep following him, the path is indeed straight.

(Photo from the city of Columbia, Mo.; text added by author)

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Senator continues stroke recovery

A U.S. senator made some news when he joined his colleagues last week as he continues stroke recovery. Therapy leads to senator's comeback after stroke:

(CNN) -- When U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk made his closely watched walk up the 45 Capitol steps Thursday, his progress was slowed more by all the well-wishers than by the fact that he had to re-learn how to walk this past year.
The 53-year-old Republican from Illinois suffered a massive stroke last January. He underwent three separate brain surgeries at Northwestern University Hospital. Then he started an intensive kind of physical therapy at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, including a nine-week long mobility study.
"It's impressive to watch him, especially when you have a guy who was so impaired when he began," said George Hornby, a research scientist and director of research for RIC's AbilityLab, the unique program which treated Kirk.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Story about one aphasia patient

One of the more interesting aphasia-related stories of late came across the pond. After a stroke, an Englishman wakes up speaking Welsh:
Alun Morgan was taken ill while he was at his home in Bath. A few days later, he was speaking the language he had not spoken since childhood.
"This was strange because I'd not lived in Wales since I was evacuated there during the war," he said.
Mr. Morgan was diagnosed with aphasia, a condition which affects a person's ability to communicate.
It can affect stroke survivors in different ways, from speaking and reading to writing and understanding.
There is a lot of misunderstanding about aphasia, which hit me during my stroke in 1998. I couldn't speak for  a time, couldn't read or write much for several days. Click here for more about aphasia, a fairly common occurrence for stroke patients.