Thursday, September 26, 2013

Could a trip to the ER with a headache mean a stroke?

While not every stroke will bring on a headache, a sudden headache could be an important sign. Saw this recent article from Everyday Health:
Sometimes a headache is just a headache, but sometimes it's a sign that you're having a type of stroke called subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). What happens when emergency room doctors don't recognize this possibility?
A large number of misdiagnosed stroke cases occur every year, particularly for stroke from hemorrhage, in which 20 percent of cases may go undiagnosed. Subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) is the kind of stroke with the highest rate of under-diagnosis.
Read the entire article for good tips.

(Photo from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Good neighbors, fewer strokes, study shows

How does a neighborhood cut stroke risk?

Environment, we're learning, is a key element of good health. Places to walk safely. Access to healthy food. Quiet. Clean air. There are all kinds of local, state and federal policies about where people live that can impact health.

Now, recent research shows that good neighbors can mean fewer strokes:
"If future work consistently shows that neighborhood-level constructs provide a protective effect against stroke," they continued, "this line of research may further justify policy changes and neighborhood-level public health approaches to stroke prevention."
Numerous studies have examined the relationship between negative neighborhood factors -- including violence, noise, traffic, cleanliness, and air quality -- and poor health outcomes, but not many have explored the associations between positive neighborhood characteristics and health.
In three Chicago neighborhoods, a previous study showed that an increase in perceived social cohesion within the neighborhood -- a measure of  "connectedness between and among neighbors and their willingness to intervene for the common good" -- was associated with a reduced risk of fatal stroke.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

'Will never walk in darkness'

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
Yes, you might have seen this particular Bible verse here before.

However, I couldn't resist keeping on the "light" theme this week (see previous post here). Fall is coming fast and with it, days are slowly shortening. Soon, daylight savings time will end, and when I leave my workplace, it'll be dark. Just recently, I've started to use a little headlamp when I run in the early morning hours.

But dark can be more than just a matter of day or night. Just as Jesus talked about the light of life, life also has its dark times. Struggles with pain and tribulation. Stroke recovery frustration. Times of being lost in a world that is often dimly lit.

We've all been in the dark. But the light is available for us - when we begin - or just remember - to follow the light of the world.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

'A light on my path'

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
Ever feel lost? In a strange town? Or a strange situation?

It's happened to me - literally AND figuratively.

Not long after I moved to Missouri several years ago, during a long run on a Saturday, I got turned around and two hours later finally figured out where I was. I got to a phone, called home and my wife was kind enough to come get me.

It was bright sunlight, but I might has well been lost in the dark.

When my stroke occurred a few years before my lost-while-running episode, I felt lost in a different kind of dark. Thanks to many people who helped, I found light and, once again, home.

We all run into patches of darkness, times that seem dreary and hopeless. But we can look toward our relationships with God to find that light -and home.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

'Polypill' approach might help in stroke prevention

I don't take many pills and grateful for that. Still, I forget one from time to time. I could see that for someone with a more complicated medication schedule, it's more critical to stay on schedule. I managed my mother's medications for a couple of years and, to a degree, can understand the concern.

Ran across an interesting story about the "polypill" approach - multiple heart disease medications rolled into one dose, and how heart patients more likely to take medication when in single pill:
One study shows that a number of stroke patients stop taking their pills within three months after having a stroke. A new study in Britain finds that if patients with heart disease can take a single pill instead of several pills, they are more likely to stay on their medication.
Of  course, stroke patients who stop taking their pills generally have a higher stroke risk. So perhaps the polypill will help prevent more strokes. And for an individual, one is too many.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

CDC: Thousands of strokes are preventable

Many strokes - especially striking the "younger" set - are preventable. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released new figures about those deaths.

You might have read about stroke risk factors here before - especially smoking and high blood pressure. Controlling those factors can add years of healthy living to many lives. Read the article about how 200,000 heart disease, stroke deaths could be prevented:
"As a doctor, I find it heartbreaking to know that the vast majority of people who are having a heart attack or stroke, under the age of 65 in particular, and dying from it didn't have to have that happen," CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden said during a noon press conference. ...
Each year in the United States nearly 800,000 people die from heart disease or stroke, many of which could have been prevented by proper medical management and lifestyle changes to control risk factors, Frieden said.
Click here to read a summary from the CDC.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Stroke risk and smoking

Smoking: a known stroke risk. And recent research shows that women are particularly at risk for the deadliest type of stroke. Read more on how stroke risk is similar among men and women smokers worldwide:
Smoking cigarettes may cause similar stroke risks for men and women, but women smokers may be at greater risk for a more deadly and uncommon type of stroke, according to new research in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.
When compared to non-smokers of the same gender, smoking increases the risk of having any type of stroke by 60 to 80 percent in women and men.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

'Straining toward what is ahead'

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
"Forgetting what is behind..."

I must admit, sometimes I look backward. Decisions made. Events that I had no control over. Tragedies and disappointments. Thrills and accomplishments.

And yet, those backward glances change nothing that is ahead. Yes, remembering lessons are important. But learning lessons and reliving the past are not the same thing.

Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, got it right: Strain toward what is ahead, and "press on toward the goal... ."