Steps for Stroke will host its 4th annual WALK N ROLL EVENT to raise awareness of stroke risk factor management and how to recognize and respond to stroke warning signs by acting FAST. The National Stroke Association supports Steps for Stroke in their effort to educate the community through an annual WALK N ROLL EVENT, as it furthers their mission to reduce the incidence and impact of stroke. Registration for this year’s walk can be completed online by clicking the Online Event Registration icon on the event page. NEW THIS YEAR, read about our coloring contest by clicking HERE!! Stroke can strike at any age, let’s get our community’s children involved in stroke prevention!
This May we are so fortunate to have yet another opportunity to raise money for local stroke survivors. Thanks to Albany Medical Center’s stroke group, we will be assisting Dr. Kathleen Ward and her team at the 2nd Annual Running Down Strokes 5K. This year all proceeds benefit our organization. Such exciting news for us as we rely heavily on funding from our annual stroke awareness events and the generosity of local community members to fund our education and support efforts.
In addition to the 5K run there will be a Survivor Stroll for those that are unable to complete a long distance course. Every registrant will receive a tee shirt and finishers item. Whether you are able to walk, run or simply hand out water to our runners, we would greatly appreciate whatever role you can take on to help us in our endeavors.
Please register for the event here:
As you may know, stroke is the leading cause of long term disability in the United States and many other countries around the world. In fact, although stroke has dropped from the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S. to the 5th in less than a decade, it still remains the 2nd world-wide. Although national organizations such as the American Stroke Association and the National Stroke Association have make great strides through initiatives to spread stroke awareness, we still have a long way to go to decrease the occurrence of stroke.
Some individuals are lucky enough to have very mild residual deficits from stroke thanks to life-saving medical advances such as tPA and thrombectomy. However, this is not the case for the majority. In fact, as of 2011, only 7% of patients presenting to hospitals nationwide with stroke symptoms were treated with tPA. This is largely due
to delays in seeking treatment. One main factor that makes ischemic stroke patients ineligible for tPA is hospital arrival past the window of opportunity. This window is generally within 3 hours although for some cases the window can be extended up to 4.5 hours. For this reason it is crucial that 911 is called for EMS transport to speed up the process once a potential stroke victim reaches the hospital.
Another difficulty in the consistent administration of tPA is some apprehension on the part of providers to administer the medication as there are risks involved. By being aware of these possible treatments as well as stroke symptoms to watch out for, you become your own advocate for discussing all possibilities in stroke care as well as requesting transfer to a primary stroke center if needed. One new release from Mass. General reported that only 75% of eligible individuals are getting tPA at 1600 hospitals studied. Although this seems like a large percentage, it ideally should be higher. If a patient is eligible for tPA, prompt and thorough education on the magnitude of success from this treatment as well as potential risks should be provided. Once informed consent is obtained the medication should be administered ASAP. Studies show the greatest benefit from tPA is seen when it is started within 90 minutes from the start of symptoms.
As a result of initiatives to improve “door to needle times” (the time between arrival to the hospital and start of tPA), hospitals have made great strides in improving the outcomes of stroke patients. However, the struggle of getting people through the door on time still remains. Appropriate use of tPA can sometimes eliminate long term effects of stroke. I’ve seen many patients after tPA with little to no deficit. When these patients are compared to the individuals who come in after having impairments for an extended period of time, it is evident how instrumental this treatment is in stroke care. Awareness efforts are unable to reach everyone and unfortunately the highest risk individuals are often the hardest to reach. Therefore, stroke advocates like ourselves rely on individuals like you to spread knowledge and be aware of what to look for. Stay informed and remember that time is brain!
If suffering a stroke weren’t difficult enough, survivors often face physical complications such as pneumonia, bed sores, falls and blood clots in the extremities. You may be surprised that none of these examples are even the most common complication of stroke. What is you may ask? Depression. Some sources report the incidence of post-stroke depression as high as 30-40%. At least one out of three survivors! As a society we often say, times are tough and things will get better; keep your chin up; or it’s just the blues, it will go away with time. But what about when it doesn’t?
The social stigma of mental illness in our world is a huge barrier to psychiatric care. The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that of the 450 million people who suffer from mental illnesses globally, almost 60% do not obtain care. For a stroke survivor this not only affects psychological well-being, but also physical and cognitive recovery from stroke. Despite global efforts by the World Health Organization that stress the importance of mental wellness, post-stroke depression often goes untreated. It is crucial for the individual, the caregiver and others involved in the stroke survivor’s recovery to advocate for management if symptoms arise.
What are the symptoms of depression?
Pessimism, hopelessness, guilt, worthlessness
Loss of pleasure or interest in activities that were once enjoyed
Decreased energy, slowed activity
Restlessness of irritability
Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
Inability to sleep or oversleeping
Appetite or weight changes
Thoughts of death or suicide
The general rule is if five or more of these symptoms exist for greater than two weeks, they may be caused by depression. Depression after stroke is commonly attributed to losses associated with the stroke. However, there also may be biochemical changes in the brain that increase the chances of this happening. For this reason some people require medical treatment of their depression. Don’t tackle it on your own. Symptoms of depression are serious and need to be discussed with a physician to prevent setbacks in physical and cognitive recovery from stroke.
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You may already be aware of the importance of sleep, but did you know that even small shifts in your circadian rhythm can negatively affect your health? In light of this past weekend’s time shift, let’s take a look at the effect of sleep on your body and your risk of stroke.
As overnight employees and swing shift workers know all too well, the body’s circadian rhythm plays an important role in our health and well-being. When sleep is irregular or inadequate your body is put under stress. This increases the risk of certain health conditions including heart attack and stroke. This widely accepted risk factor led researchers to study the effect of daylight savings time (DST) on stroke risk and it was found that overall stroke risk increases by 8% in the two days following DST. For adults over 65, the risk of stroke was found to increase by 20% due to the time change. This small schedule shift may not be noticeable for shift workers who are used to the frequent changes in sleep, however it may have a much greater effect on those who keep a strict sleep regimen.
Sleep affects your stroke risk in the long run as well. Sleep plays a role in healing and repair of the body: specifically the heart and blood vessels. For this reason insufficient sleep has been linked to cardiovascular diseases. Sleep also affects the release of hormones that make you feel hungry and affects the way our bodies use insulin. This causes blood sugar levels to increase. Therefore, when you are sleep deprived, the hunger hormone levels increase which makes you eat more even though your blood glucose is already higher from insulin resistance. The result is comparable to a pre-diabetic state! This as you can imagine increases the risk of developing both obesity and diabetes (which further increase the risk of stroke).
So I’m sure you get it, we need sleep. But how much is enough? Research found that out of 300,000 Americans who reported seven to eight hours of sleep per night were 25% less likely to have a stroke. But before you get too excited, the same research showed those that slept more than eight hours had the highest stroke risk. So I suppose it takes more of a Goldilocks method to maximize the reduction in stroke risk you get from sleeping.
Not only does adequate sleep reduce your risk of stroke, but it also improves your mood, your decision making skills and your memory. So make it this week’s goal to get a little more exercise and the proper amount of sleep to make a surprisingly big difference in your health and well-being.
Links to full articles used for this week’s blog: