Tuesday, February 26, 2013

'For we are God's handiwork'

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
After my stroke, I considered the idea that I was "damaged goods" somehow. I struggled with recovering my speaking and writing abilities, despite the damage.

Yet, we hear Paul's words to the Ephesians that echo to this day. No matter my "damage," I am - just as you are - God's handiwork.

Perfect? No one is. Accepted by Christ? All of us.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

'Honor God with your bodies'

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

A recent story about salt research can be an example of honoring your body - through controlling salt intake.

Reuters Health reported that a study says U.S.- wide salt reduction could prevent deaths. A snippet:
The Institute of Medicine recommends most healthy people get 1,500 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day, with an upper limit of 2,300 mg. But the average American eats more like 3,600 mg each day, largely through processed food.
"Reducing sodium intake is important for everyone, not just a small subset of people who are salt sensitive," said Pamela Coxson, the study's lead author from the University of California, San Francisco.
Although the health effects of a salt cutback may be small for the average person, she said, the results show they add up when projected across millions of Americans.
A low-sodium diet can help with high blood pressure, the most common cause of strokes.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Southern diet and stroke risk

This is not shocking news, but more research is showing that Southern - often fried - foods are stroke risk factors. Check out the article about how Southern diet has tight grip on "stroke belt":
Judd said that people in the top quartile ate Southern foods about six times a week, while those in the lowest quartile ate it about once a month.
"Diet is an overlooked risk factor for stroke," Judd told MedPage Today. "While physicians, of course, know that diet is a risk factor, stroke patients or patients with risk factors for stroke are rarely referred for dietary counseling," she said.
"Yet this is something that patients can easily do to reduce risk," noted Steven M. Greenberg, MD, PhD, chair of the ISC program and chair of neurology at the Massachusetts General Hospital Stroke Research Center.
"Patients are always asking what they can do to avoid stroke. Here is something you can tell them," he said in an interview.
As a born Southerner, I understand the diet. There is still a lot of fried and somewhat unhealthy food consumed in Southern states. And I understand the attraction - my personal fave is fried catfish with fried hush puppies. It can't be beat.

That being said, I also don't eat fried catfish every night. If you've read this blog before, you know that I'm a fan of moderation. Fried foods are OK occasionally - just not routine - and not in huge amounts. I seriously doubt I'll ever stop eating my fried catfish.

(Photo by Ryan Somma [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Clot-buster might help 'wake-up' stroke patients

Wake up to this good - and important - news about the so-called "wake-up" strokes.

In the past, doctors couldn't use a powerful clot-busting drug for those patients who woke up with a stroke, because of the 4.5-hour rule - only use the drug if you know the symptoms appeared less than 4.5 hours ago.

Now, research gives early indicators that  clot busters are OK for "wake-up" strokes:
In a non-randomized study, patients with a so-called "wake-up" stroke who had clinical signs and CT scans indicating only early ischemic changes had outcomes following thrombolysis similar to patients with a known symptom onset time, according to Dulka Manawadu, MD, of King's College London.
"I think the time is now right to prospectively randomize these patients with wake-up strokes into trials of thrombolysis," she reported at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference here.
Steven Greenberg, MD, PhD, a neurologist at Harvard Medical School, said another approach, in addition to randomizing patients to tPA or no tPA, would be to use imaging to select patients who would most benefit from thrombolysis.
More research could follow. This does, however, show the need for everyone to know stroke signs and know that help is needed quickly.

You can read MedPage's coverage of the conference by following this link.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tai chi might help prevent falls

As a runner, and as a generally clumsy person, I've fallen before. It's no fun, and it seems that the older you get the more serious a fall can be.

So was interested in finding this article (which you should read entirely by clicking on the link) about how tai chi might help stroke survivors avoid falls:
"Learning how to find and maintain your balance after a stroke is a challenge," lead author Ruth Taylor-Piliae, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona College of Nursing, in Tucson, said in an American Stroke Association news release.
Taylor-Piliae's team tracked 89 people, who had an average age of 70 and had suffered a stroke an average of three years before the start of the study. Twenty-eight of the patients received usual care, 31 were assigned to a national fitness program for Medicare-eligible seniors called SilverSneakers and 30 practiced Tai Chi.
Tai Chi, an exercise routine that dates back to ancient China, includes physical movement, mental concentration and relaxed breathing.
(Photo from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke)

Thursday, February 07, 2013

'He delivered me from all my fears'

I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.

Fear. Sooner or later, we all face fear. On behalf of a loved one. Our own well-being. The unknown.

This Psalm reminds us that despite all our fears, God can help us move past them. Notice, too, that the writer "sought" God in response to fear.

So seek him. Seek his answer. Know that God is with you despite your fears.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

New guidelines, old message: Time is brain

New stroke guidelines have been issued - but much of the message can be summed up as time is still brain:
Stroke treatment within 60 minutes, telestroke networks, and expanded eligibility for clot-buster therapy are among the topics outlined in the new stroke guidelines from the American Stroke Association published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.
Many of the so-called new guidelines are a simple statement of accepted clinical practice, such as treating eligible stroke patients with IV tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) within 60 minutes of arriving at the hospital, Edward C. Jauch, MD, lead author of the document, told MedPage Today.
Read the entire article for a full report.