Thursday, June 26, 2014

More evidence about smoking

Doing healthy things make you less of a stroke risk - that just makes sense.

So a recently story about more such research didn't contain any big surprises.

But I did want to highlight one element in the story about how healthy habits linked to lower stroke risk:
“Being a former smoker was not associated with stroke risk, showing that cessation of smoking is effective in stroke prevention,” the researchers write in the journal Stroke.
So - stop smoking now, and you could wind up lowering your stroke risk! Better yet, if you've never started, just don't do it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Is more protein good for you?

I've been trying to increase my protein intake recently in the hope of improving my knee surgery recovery. Now, perhaps I have more reasons to keep up with protein. A recent story poses the question - more protein equals lower risk?:
From the U.S. Department
of Agriculture
And a dose-response analysis showed that an increased intake of 20 grams of protein per day was associated with a 26% reduction in the risk of stroke (RR 0.74, 95% CI 0.65-0.84), they reported online in Neurology.
"This risk reduction would be translated into a reduction of 1,482,000 stroke deaths every year worldwide and is expected to produce overall health benefits by decreasing the level of disability," they wrote.
The authors acknowledged, however, that no large randomized trials have been conducted to directly examine the relationship between protein intake and stroke risk.
Of course, some protein sources tend to have other effects - we've all read how too much red meat might be bad for you, for example. Still, making sure you have enough of the right kind of protein might pay off in multiple ways.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

'Microwave helmet' - great name, great idea

I have to get something out of the way - "microwave helmet" is a great name. I want one.

Now, in a more serious vein, one of the challenges of treating a stroke is diagnosing it, and determining what kind. It generally takes a CT scan in a hospital.

Now, though, the news is that a microwave helmet could diagnose strokes as patients ride to hospital:
The device, which researchers dubbed "Strokefinder," was inspired by computerized simulations devised to investigate the effect of cellphone radiation on the brain. "We realized that when you change the brain it changes the wave patterns from mobile phones going through the brain, and we looked into the possibility that these wave patterns could detect brain trauma," biomedical engineer and Strokefinder designer Mikael Persson tells Shots.
The Strokefinder prototype consists of an array of 12 antennas arranged around the head like a helmet. One by one, each antenna beams a low-power microwave signal through the skull, and the other 11 detect how the signal has changed after passing through the brain. The device then analyzes the microwave patterns to detect cranial bleeding. The whole process takes only a few seconds.
Doctors now rely on CT scans of the brain to spot clots or bleeding, but precious time is wasted transporting patients to hospitals where these bulky machines are located. "The ultimate goal is to give treatment in the ambulance because so many brain cells are dying each second," says Persson.
Read the whole article to learn more - but this would be a great advance and could potentially save a lot of lives and prevent countless disabilities.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Aphasia does NOT decrease intelligence

I stumbled across a pretty generic article about aphasia the other day, but I could see how these articles might help. Most people know very little about aphasia, which often affect how stroke survivors can communicate.

I'll tell you my favorite line after this excerpt about there is help for asphasia:
Aphasia occurs when a stroke or other brain injury damage and disconnect areas of the brain responsible for language, which includes not only speech, but also the ability to comprehend, read, write, and even gesture.
Approximately one million people in the United States have aphasia, and more than 200,000 Americans are diagnosed each year.
Bumper sticker image
from the Veterans Administration
Aphasia is sometimes mistaken for intellectual impairment, and so they are often ignored because they may seem not to understand, or "shouted at" as if they have a hearing loss.
It's the very last line. One of the most aggravating part of my stroke recovery was that it seemed - just from my own point of view - that some people assumed that because I had difficulty in speaking, my intelligence was affected.

It was not.

So, I hope that at least one person will read that article and learn that fact!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

'Nothing is too hard for you!'

Lord God, you created heaven and earth by your great power and outstretched arm; nothing is too hard for you!
-Jeremiah 32:17
Life is difficult! I'm guessing we all know that.

Between health concerns, work, duties at home and more, we're often challenged on a daily basis. Jeremiah, too, was challenged - he was on a mission for God, which didn't set well with many of those in charge in his day.

But Jeremiah's words still echo today, for which I'm grateful. He reminds us that yes, life is hard, but for God, nothing is hard. When my own strength wanes, God's never does.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

'Trust in the Lord forever'

Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.
2014 has been my year of new health concerns. Knee surgery. Muscle spasms. Etc.

Slowly, these things are becoming resolved or have already resolved, but not on my preferred schedule. I'm guessing that like most people, I am impatient and want quick and easy fixes.

The words of Isaiah can help bring people back to where we need to be. Trusting in God can mean surrender your impatience, your own timetable, and place yourself on the Rock.

Does this mean that we are to do nothing? No. In fact, placing your trust in God can help you press forward in advocating for your own or a loved one's health care.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Sleep apnea and stroke risk

Trouble sleeping? Many people discover they have a condition called sleep apnea, which affects breathing during sleep.

Most of us know at least one person who sleeps using a mask to help in breathing. I've seen people getting substantial relief with that treatment.

Now, one more reason to check with your doctor if you are having trouble sleeping. Sleep apnea is a stroke risk:
Through up to 14 years of follow-up, stroke risk increased along with the obstructive sleep apnea index to a similar extent in both men and women, according to Suzanne Bertisch, MD, instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School/Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Brookline, Mass.
Much of the risk can be addressed by health professionals, but you have to check!

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

'Dangerously uninformed' about stroke

May was Stroke Awareness Month, and despite many efforts and many years, people are still generally unfamiliar with stroke symptoms and what do do about them.

So please, share this information about stroke and what do do about them:
“The public is dangerously uninformed about what stroke is, and what the signs and symptoms of stroke are, as well as the risk factors,” Jim Baranski, C.E.O. of the National Stroke Association, told Reuters Health.
Stroke is a brain attack, occurring when vital blood flow and oxygen to the brain are cut off or greatly reduced.
The National Stroke Association suggests using the word FAST to help recognize the signs of a stroke. F stands for Face: ask the person to smile, and see whether one side of the face droops. A stands for Arms: if both arms are raised, does one drift to the side? S stands for Speech: is it slurred, or strange? And T stands for Time: don’t waste time before calling 911 if someone has started to show any of these signs.
Are stroke treatments perfect? No. Are the techniques to aid recovery guaranteed? Again, no. And we can't lose sight of that and continue efforts on those fronts.

But - when stroke signs are recognized and the person gets help as soon as possible, are the odds of recovery much better? YES. Remember that.