Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Closure of hole in the heart reduces stroke recurrence

A still from the video of my PFO being closed.
Click here to view the video.
If you've read this blog before, you might know that my hole-in-the-heart was closed 10 years ago. Click here to read details.

The hole is called a patent foramen ovale, or PFO. It's an opening between the upper chambers of the heart. We're all born with one, but it's normally closed shortly after birth. For some, though, it remains. For some people, blood clots can pass from one side to the other, getting pumped out to the arteries and eventually in the brain, causing a stroke.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Drug prices especially hit hard in rural America

Which is more valuable - the life of someone who lives in Mountain View, Ark., (population 2,860) or someone who lives just one county over?

That's the question from a good NPR piece about how high drug prices hit rural hospitals extra hard, a story beginning with the story of a stroke patient coming in to a small, rural hospital needing an expensive drug:
For example, Langston's 25-bed hospital pays $8,010 for a single dose of Activase — up nearly 200 percent from $2,708 a decade ago. Yet, just 36 miles down the road, a bigger regional hospital gets an 80 percent discount on the same drug. White River Medical Center, a 235-bed facility in Batesville, Ark., buys Activase for about $1,600 per dose.
White River participates in a federal drug discount program Congress approved in the early 1990s. The program offers significant price breaks on thousands of drugs to hospitals that primarily serve low-income patients. One federal report found the average discount ranged from 20 to 50 percent, though as illustrated with Activase, it can be much higher.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

After years of decline, South sees rise in stroke deaths

Even though the South is also know as the Stroke Belt, we've seen a decline in stroke deaths - until now. In the most recent numbers, stroke deaths are rising in the South:
In its monthly Vital Signs report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that stroke deaths are on the rise in the South in recent years after decades of decline, and rates are stagnant in other states. While stroke deaths have declined more than 76 percent since 1968 among adults 35 and older, and 38 percent since 2000, that decline has roughly leveled off or even increased in most states since 2013, according to the report. That includes an overall 4 percent increase in the South, with a 3 percent increase in Georgia and a whopping 10.8 percent increase in Florida.
“This is an important wake-up call,” said Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, director of the CDC and a former Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health. It is particularly alarming among those ages 35-64, which made up a third of the more than 32,000 “excess stroke deaths,” those who died from stroke who might not have had the death rates continued their decline.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Meth could up stroke risk in younger users

Methamphetamine's dangers are well known - and now, it looks like that the drug could up stroke risk in younger users:
With use of the stimulant increasing, particularly in more potent forms, doctors in many countries are seeing more meth-related disease and harms, the Australian study authors said. This is especially true among younger people, who are the major users of the drug.
"It is likely that methamphetamine abuse is making a disproportionate contribution to the increased incidence of stroke among young people observed over recent years," said researchers led by Julia Lappin. She's with the National Drug and Alcohol Research Center at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.
These strokes can lead to disabilities or death, she and her colleagues pointed out.
(Photo from MedlinePlus)