Wednesday, April 12, 2017

'We are renewed day by day'

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
Every so often, my body reminds me that I'm no longer in my 20s. Or 30s. Or 40s. You get the picture.

Now we're in the middle of Holy Week, the week between Psalm Sunday - the celebration of Jesus' entry to Jerusalem - and Easter Sunday - the celebration of his resurrection and the ultimate promise of what Paul is saying in the verse above.

So consider this verse this week. Despite age, health issues, anything that troubles you, there's that promise of renewal.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

This millionaire’s stroke led him to a life of philanthropy

Interesting thoughts from a stroke survivor, a millionaire whose stroke led him to a life of philanthropy:
The stroke changed you physically, but how did it change your outlook?
I was scared. A stroke is very difficult because it’s physical and mental. It’s an attack on the brain. But I had a lot of support: my wonderful wife and a lot of friends. But I also had to turn to my faith. When I was sitting there that night after I came out of the coma, I didn’t ask God to let me go back to work or play basketball again. All I said was: Give me the strength to deal with whatever you send my way. That was different for me.
Had you been very religious before that?
My view back then was that Sunday was God’s day, but the other six days I was in control. This was the first time that I realized that God was in control every day. I would not have recovered had I not relinquished control.
The point is not to imitate him in detail - we're not all millionaires - but to do what we can. I need that reminder.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Many at risk for stroke don’t get anti-clotting drugs

Stroke prevention can save a life. Yet, many at risk for stroke don’t get anti-clotting drugs:
More than four in five stroke patients with a history of heart rhythm problems didn’t get any blood thinners, or didn’t take enough to help prevent a stroke before they had one, a U.S. study suggests.
Most strokes occur when a clot blocks an artery carrying blood to the brain, known as an ischemic stroke. The study focused on more than 94,000 stroke patients with atrial fibrillation, an irregular rapid heartbeat that can lead to stroke, heart failure and chronic fatigue.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

'Something else going on' in pot connection

You've likely seen similar news before. Click here for the most recent.  And while the research leaves many unanswered questions, it's worth considering how pot use is tied to higher odds for stroke:
New research analyzing millions of U.S. medical records suggests that marijuana use raises an adult's risk of stroke and heart failure.
The study couldn't prove cause-and-effect, but the researchers said they tried to account for other heart risk factors.
"Even when we corrected for known risk factors, we still found a higher rate of both stroke and heart failure in these patients," explained lead researcher Dr. Aditi Kalla, a cardiologist at Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia.
"That leads us to believe that there is something else going on besides just obesity or diet-related cardiovascular side effects," Kalla said in a news release from the American College of Cardiology (ACC).

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Exercise: It's good for your brain

Do what exercise you can - it's good for the brain.

If you've read this blog before, you likely know I'm a longtime distance runner. Not everyone can do that, I realize. But almost anyone can exercise at some level of motion. And recent research reiterates that for stroke survivors, exercise is good for the brain:
The findings bolster what experts have long believed: Exercise can aid stroke recovery in multiple ways.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Too often, too many people don't get the right treatment

The clot-busting drug tPA has been available now for more than 20 years. But still, too many stroke victims don't get the drug:
Every year, patients were 11 percent more likely to be treated by tPA, even though across the entire period of time only 3.8 percent of total patients got the clot-busting drug, researchers reported.
The team found certain types of patients were less likely to receive tPA:

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Alexa - tell me how to save a life

Alexa has moved into our home.

That is, a couple of Amazon Echo Dots occupy the place where I live. So far, I've told Alexa (the name of the voice) to tell me jokes, give me news and weather information, play radio stations, play music and more.

Very handy devices, all voice-controlled.

And now, Alexa can tell you the steps for CPR and warning signs of heart attack and stroke:
Alexa, the friendly voice of the Amazon Echo, will for the first time offer CPR instructions and describe the warning signs of heart attack and stroke.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Snowstorms and strokes - strange association

The people in my town, Columbia, Missouri, can thank me for the lack of snow lately. A couple of years ago on Black Friday, I bought a snow blower online, from my recliner. That's my kind of Black Friday shopping.

But it's been mostly idle since - not that much snow. Which is fine. I'm not a fan.

So how does this tie in with strokes? It seems that snowstorms may bring blizzards health troubles, including strokes:
Hospital admissions for heart-related ailments -- heart attack, chest pain and stroke -- were 23 percent higher two days after a storm.
The study authors believe their analysis is the first to examine hospital admissions over the course of several days after low, moderate and high snowfalls.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Story of a clinical trial provides serious food for thought

A still from the video of my PFO closure.
Click here to watch the video.
Something to think about: Clinical trials are necessary but can be thought-provoking.

The Houston Chronicle recently published a look at a clinical trial to find answers about closing a heart defect called a patent foramen ovale, or a PFO. It's potentially a stroke-causing defect. It was the probable cause of my stroke in 1998. It got patched up in 2007. You can click here to read about it.

But even though mine was fixed almost 10 years ago, it didn't end the controversy over whether the procedure - done in a cardiac catheterization lab - was really better than treating the defect with medication. One of my personal choices involved not taking blood-thinning warfarin - click here to read about it - for the rest of my life.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Undiagnosed and untreated - what's your blood pressure?

Last week, the focus was global hypertension problems. Now, in a North American study, we learn that high blood pressure is often undiagnosed, untreated:
For the study, the researchers measured the blood pressure of almost 1,100 volunteers. The measurements were taken at mobile clinics that the researchers had set up at shopping malls, workplaces, hospitals and community centers in a large city.
The study revealed that 50 percent of the participants were unaware they had high blood pressure. Of these people, 2 percent were at very high risk for health complications.
The findings were published online Jan. 5 in the American Journal of Hypertension.
"What is particularly significant about this study is that a surprisingly large number of participants exhibited some type of hypertensive urgency or emergency," study author Dr. Grant Pierce said in a journal news release. Pierce is executive director of research at St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg.
Most of the people with high blood pressure weren't being treated even if they had been diagnosed. The study authors suggested that either these people didn't fully understand their condition, or they didn't understand the health consequences associated with high blood pressure.
High blood pressure is the leading cause of strokes. Taking it seriously might save a life.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The world is experiencing a high blood pressure increase

High blood pressure - hypertension - is the leading risk factor for strokes.

So the news is a little frightening - high blood pressure is increasing worldwide:
"There are almost 900 million people in the world with hypertension, and there are almost 3.5 billion people with elevated blood pressure that doesn't quite meet the definition of hypertension," said study lead author Christopher Murray. He directs the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle.
"Blood pressure is the leading cause of premature death and disability in the world," Murray said.
Blood pressure is made up of two numbers. The top number, called systolic pressure, measures the pressure in the arteries when blood is being pumped from the heart. The bottom number, the diastolic pressure, measures pressure between heartbeats. Blood pressure is expressed in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).
The study authors said that even systolic blood pressure within what is considered a normal range -- less than 120/80 mm Hg, according to the American Heart Association -- can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
It's important to pay attention to your blood pressure and if needed, work with your health professionals to control it.

(Photo from U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Top posts visited in 2016

Stroke of Faith has been around since December 2005 - more than 11 years now.

I ran numbers recently for the top five most-read postings in 2016. Just one was actually posted that year - the rest are a collection of oldies but goodies starting with:

1. There's a hole in my heart 

2. Stroke signs: Remember the first three letters, S. T. R.

3. 'Do not be anxious about anything'

4. 'Be our strength every morning'

5. How I learned about aphasia and intelligence - the hard way

The top most-read posting is about the likely cause of my stroke - a patent foramen ovale, or a hole between the two upper chambers of my heart. The second is a quick read about stroke signs. Numbers 3 and 4 are Scripture-based postings, and No. 5, the only one posted in 2016, reminds us all that aphasia effects language - but doesn't reduce intelligence.