Olympic lives touched by stroke

The story of Tsepo Mathibelle is a great Olympic story. The man that finished last of the marathon finishers in the 2012 Olympics still did the most important thing, he finished! He didn’t give up like others that day and he will be running again in the last event of these 2016 Olympics.

Running for poverty-stricken Lesotho, Mathibelle continued running on that summer day in London for his parents. His father suffered a stroke and his mother was hit by a car and neither of them can work to support the family. He runs because he has to in some senses to provide for his family but he runs because he loves it too.

Here’s a great story about him on Yahoo.

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Women Smokers at Higher Risk for Brain Bleed

Strokes characterized by bleeding inside the lining of the brain are more common among smokers, especially women, researchers report.

These serious strokes—called subarachnoid hemorrhages—are eight times more common among women who smoke more than a pack a day compared to nonsmokers, Finnish researchers found. They’re three times more common among men who smoke the same amount.

Even light smoking tripled a woman’s risk for this type of stroke, the study found.

“There is no safe level of smoking, and naturally, the best option is never to start,” said lead researcher Dr. Joni Lindbohm of the University of Helsinki.

Read more at strokesmart.org.

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The Experience of Locked-In Syndrome

Allison O’Reilly is on a mission—to talk to all who will listen about stroke.

She’s even written a book, Out of the Darkness, about her journey in stroke recovery.

“Most people don’t know about stroke or care about it until something happens,” said O’Reilly, who experienced a major stroke on Oct. 17, 2010. “But it can happen to anyone at any time.”

She was home alone when, at age 49, she had a stroke that left her with locked-in syndrome—completely paralyzed except for movement in her eyes and unable to speak.

“I did not meet the criteria for stroke,” said O’Reilly. “I’m not heavy. I never smoked. I didn’t have blood clots or high cholesterol. I had just had a physical two weeks prior and got a clean bill of health.”

She was locked in for two and one-half months—missed all the holidays—and was fed by a feeding tube until Jan. 6.

“I equate it to being buried alive because you know what’s going on around you but you can’t move or speak,” she said. “Locked-in occurs in one percent of strokes and most people die because it’s a terrible way to live.”

O’Reilly’s friends and her husband of 25 years, Kevin, would visit every day, sometimes spending the night.

“I had great support and that’s very, very important,” she said. “I believe I survived so I would be able to help other people because something good has to come out of this horrible thing.”

You can read more about Allison at StrokeSmart.org.

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Studies: Hemorrhagic Stroke Patients Have Second Chance

Gigi Gelvosa, a neurosurgical operating room nurse at Seton Brain and Spine Care in Austin, Texas, suddenly found herself whisked into the emergency room of the same hospital where she worked.

She was in a coma and this time was on the other side of an operating table—as a patient who experienced a major hemorrhagic stroke.

Doctors gave her little chance of survival but operated on her using NICO BrainPath® technology which was safely performed to treat the deadliest, most costly and debilitating form of stroke through surgical intervention.

Gelvosa not only came through her surgery but is now on the road to recovery.

Brain Path is now the subject of two peer-reviewed studies in Neurosurgery and Operative Neurosurgery, both published by the Congress of Neurological Surgeons—the leader in education and innovation in advancing neurosurgery.

The studies show statistically significant data, citing more than 95 percent clot reduction, the ability to walk in 94 percent of patients, and no mortalities in one study with patient groups suffering from hemorrhagic stroke.

Both studies—one prospective single-center study conducted by the Cleveland Clinic and the other a retrospective multi-center study with 11 institutions that included Johns Hopkins, Emory, NorthShore, Indiana University, and Houston Methodist—conclude that the BrainPath Approach™ was safely performed in all patients with a high rate of clot evacuation and a statistically significant improvement in clinical outcomes and functional status and a meaningful reduction in mortality.

Read more at strokesmart.org.

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Gordie Howe has passed away

Mr. Hockey has shuffled off this mortal coil. After suffering a stroke in 2014, he underwent stem cell treatment in Mexico and saw significant improvement in his condition.

I know when we were trying to find treatment for my father that we looked into stem cell treatment options that were outside of the US. Cost and logistics were hurdles that we just couldn’t clear for him though. It is nice to see that that treatment option did show some success for Howe.

You can read more about Gordie Howe at the Puck Daddy blog.


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Stanford researchers ‘stunned’ by stem cell experiment that helped stroke patient walk

Stanford researchers studying the effect of stem cells injected directly into the brains of stroke patients said Thursday that they were “stunned” by the extent to which the experimental treatment restored motor function in some of the patients. While the research involved only 18 patients and was designed primarily to look at the safety of such a procedure and not its effectiveness, it is creating significant buzz in the neuroscience community because the results appear to contradict a core belief about brain damage — that it is permanent and irreversible.

The results, published in the journal Stroke, could have implications for our understanding of an array of disorders including traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury and Alzheimer’s if confirmed in larger-scale testing.

The work involved patients who had passed the critical six-month mark when recoveries generally plateau and there are rarely further improvements. This is the point at which therapies are typically stopped as brain circuits are thought to be dead and unable to be repaired. Each participant in the study had suffered a stroke beneath the brain’s outermost layer and had significant impairments in moving their arms and-or legs. Some participants in the study had had a stroke as long as three to five years before the experimental treatment.

Read more here at the Washington Post.

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WATCHMAN: A New Weapon in Stroke Prevention

A medical device about the size of a quarter could help prevent stroke in people with atrial fibrillation (AFib) who are looking for an option to commonly-prescribed blood thinners. AFib is a significant risk factor for stroke.

The FDA approved the WATCHMAN device last year to be used in people whose AFib isn’t related to heart valve disease.

Read more about it at strokesmart.org.

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Americans Not Controlling High Blood Pressure

Nearly half of Americans with high blood pressure are not properly controlling their condition, increasing their risk of heart attack, stroke and heart disease, a new government report shows.

About 47 percent of people with high blood pressure have not brought their numbers to a normal range, through either lifestyle changes or medications, according to data published Nov. 12 from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That’s actually a huge improvement: Back in 1999, more than 68 percent did not have their blood pressure under control, the report found.

But it’s far short of the federal Healthy People 2020 goal, which calls for fewer than 40 percent of people with high blood pressure to have it uncontrolled by that date, according to the CDC researchers.

Read more about this problem at strokesmart.org.

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Common Misdiagnoses for Stroke

Because symptoms of stroke can be mistaken for many different things, stroke patients may need to speak up and advocate for themselves to make sure they get a proper diagnosis and the care that they need as soon as possible.

A delay in treatment can increase the severity of a stroke, so a swift and proper diagnosis is paramount.

Here is a look at common misdiagnoses for stroke.

Being Drunk or on Drugs

Someone who is drunk or on drugs may act in a way or exhibit symptoms that can be confused with stroke symptoms.

For example, they may stumble, or be unable to walk straight, and their speech may be slurred.

So a stroke patient may need to be prepared to repeatedly answer that they are sober.

Be clear and firm with a doctor or hospital staff that you are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and that your symptoms need to be addressed.

Stroke During Pregnancy 

Each year several thousand women in the United States have a stroke while pregnant, in delivery, or in the first few weeks following delivery.

And warning signs of stroke, such as facial drooping and arm weakness, could be mistaken for other symptoms during pregnancy.

For example, inflammation of the facial nerve could cause a pregnant woman’s facial muscles to droop.  And carpel tunnel syndrome, a very common symptom during pregnancy, can cause tingling and weakness in the inner portion of the arm.

Reach out to your doctor immediately if you believe you are experiencing any warning signs of stroke before or after a pregnancy.

Blurred Vision

Problems with vision including double vision, blurriness, and losing sight in one eye can all be signs of a stroke.

Don’t dismiss these symptoms for tiredness or old age, or allow a medical professional to make the same conclusion.

A blocked blood vessel reducing the amount of oxygen reaching an eye can cause any of these vision problems. So if you experience a sudden vision problem, don’t rule out the possibility of stroke.

Other Misdiagnosed Signs of Stroke 

If you are not prone to migraines, a sudden and severe headache could be a sign of stroke, as could sudden numbness or weakness in an arm.

If you experience any of these symptoms, don’t hesitate to call 911 and reach out for help. Don’t underestimate these symptoms or allow a medical professional to do the same without checking for the possibility of a stroke.

Check out this and other great stroke-related information at strokesmart.org.

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