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Heidi Moawad, MD

Stroke Blog


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Will You Endure the Stigma of Brain Damage? The Hillary Drama

Tuesday May 13, 2014
The recent hoopla about Carl Rove and Hillary Clinton reads just like politics as usual in light of the potential high stakes job that Hillary Clinton may soon be vying for.
But the story underscores a serious concern for survivors of a stroke or any serious brain condition  - whether head trauma, meningitis, Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis. Normal everyday survivors who rely on an income from work share a deep fear that competence will be questioned after a brain related illness.
Brain conditions, in particular, share a common stigma. Even regular folks often worry that professional rivals will call into question judgement and insight, undermining credibility at work. The balance between taking enough time to recover and proving capabilities can be daunting for many people who want to resume professional challenges and wages from work.
What is the solution?
1. Be honest with yourself. Take stock of your abilities and take advantage of the opportunities to communicate with your doctors, physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists. Stroke outcome is variable. Some people are severely incapacitated, while some suffer from moderate impairment. On the other hand, many stroke survivors only experience mild impairment, while others are fortunate enough to recover completely. There are objective methods of measuring disability and they can help you judge your own capabilities.
2. Take time to recover. If you have suffered from a stroke and have been able to emerge with little neurological sequela, heed the warning and start taking care of your health.
3. Accept limitations. If your job will be impaired, make necessary changes in your work responsibilities. You will gain respect when you tackle tasks that you can excel at, rather than falling short.
Overall, the recent political story will likely blow over to be replaced by another. But it does highlight a common fear among stroke survivors- even those who are not high profile.

May is Stroke Awareness Month

Thursday May 1, 2014

A stroke is a significant life event that is caused by lack of blood supply to a portion of the brain. There are such wide ranging outcomes of a stroke, that one of the ways health care professionals rate stroke severity is by using the National Institute of health Stroke scale, the NIHSS. A stroke can have long term effects on movement, mood, and may even cause unexpected changes. It can be a challenge for family members and some lifestyle habits may need changing. New research in the area of neuroplasticity may hold promise in rehabilitative methods. With summer coming, it is also important to know how to prevent heat stroke.

Brain Cell Protection

Wednesday April 16, 2014

Regenerating brain cells- Is it a realistic prospect or science fiction?

Treatment for stroke traditionally has been and continues to be geared towards preventing the brain damage that occurs from a lack of blood supply. Preventative approaches towards stroke include healthy habits, such as healthy eating and stress control. Early recognition of stroke and mini stroke symptoms with a strong focus on catching symptoms and getting prompt medical attention and treatment has been consistently recommended as the best way to control the potential damage that can be caused by a stroke.. Dementia and the behavioral consequences of stroke have long been viewed as more difficult to treat with rehabilitative therapy. Computer stimulation may develop in years to come as an additional method to help in stroke recovery.

One fascinating potential in the approach to stroke therapy is the protection and possible regeneration of damaged brain cells.

The advancement of the development of widely used medications for neuroprotection for the treatment of stroke is not likely to emerge in the very near future. But it is certainly not in the realm of science fiction either. There is a chance that the development and practical use of effective medications for neuroprotection after a stroke may develop in the next decade.

In the meantime, stroke survivors benefit from a strong support system, including family and friends who maintain contact. A stroke survivor can continue to live a productive and happy life. Stroke is a disease of which many features are well understood, and many are still a scientific mystery. The approach and treatment has many well-established features, as well as exciting new developments. Stroke survivors are living longer and healthier than ever before.


Stroke- What you need to Know

Monday March 17, 2014

Strokes can be an alarming health problem. It is important to know what to do in case you suspect that you or someone else may be having a stroke. There are many controllable causes, and family history can be a risk factor.  There are a variety of types of stroke and effects of stroke. Life after a stroke can include a number of concerns, include whether a stroke survivor can resume driving or working. The prognosis can be difficult to predict, but there are many helpful methods of rehabilitation to maximize function after recovery.

Serene Branson may have suffered stroke on air

Monday February 14, 2011

CBS news reporter Serene Branson was taken to the hospital last night after showing signs of a possible stroke. While reporting on the Grammys from LA, she became unable to pronounce words properly, releasing a string of unintelligible sounds before the camera cut away. Signs of a stroke include the inability to speak, as well as face numbness, weakness on one side of the body, and double vision. You can read more about stroke symptoms on About.com's Heart Health site.

Beau Biden suffers stroke

Wednesday May 12, 2010

Delaware Attorney General (and son of VP Joe Biden) Beau Biden, 41, checked himself into a hospital yesterday morning with a headache. The cause was mild stroke, doctors say, and he is expected to recover fully.

Vice president Biden is known to have had an aneurysm in 1988 at the age of 45. It's not clear if family history played a role in Beau's stroke.

Each year 700,000 people suffer a stroke. Five hundred thousand of these strokes are first occurrences, while the rest are repeat strokes. According to ABC News, approximately 10 to 15 percent of strokes  occur in people under 45.

Red wine protects against stroke in mice

Thursday April 29, 2010

A glass of red wine a day could keep the stroke away -- at least in mice, according to a new study published in the journal Experimental Neurology.

Researchers at the John Hopkins Medical Institute induced stroke in mice by cutting off blood supply, and found that those fed a modest dose of resveratrol -- a compound found in the skin and seeds of grapes -- two hours beforehand suffered significantly less brain damage than mice not given the compound.

"Resveratrol itself may not be shielding brain cells from free radical damage directly but instead, resveratrol, and its metabolites, may be prompting the cells to defend themselves," study leader Sylvain Doré said in a press release from Johns Hopkins.

Bret Michaels in Critical Condition

Tuesday April 27, 2010

Bret Michaels

You've probably heard by now that Poison frontman and reality TV star Bret Michaels was admitted to the hospital on April 22 with complaints of a severe headache. Doctors found bleeding in his brainstem and Michaels was diagnosed with subarachnoid hemorrhage, or bleeding in the area between the brain and the thin tissues that cover the brain.

The 47-year-old singer, who has diabetes, had an emergency appendectomy a couple weeks ago; it's not known whether the diabetes or the recent surgery is related to his current condition. According to the LA Times, Michaels is under 24-hour surveillance as doctors work to find the source of the bleeding.

Study finds walking decreases risk of stroke in women

Wednesday April 7, 2010

A recent study published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke found that women who walked regularly had a decreased risk of stroke.

Women who said they walked briskly had a 37% lower risk of stroke than those who didn't walk. Women who reported walking at least two hours a week at any pace had a 30 percent lower risk.

The research involved about 39,000 female health workers 45 or older enrolled in the Women's Health Study. The women were asked periodically about their physical activity. During 12 years of follow-up, 579 had strokes.

Besides walking, the study looked at vigorous activities like running, swimming and biking, but researchers didn't find a link between those vigorous activities and a reduced stroke risk. The researcher said there may not have been enough women in that group to show a difference. It's also possible, they said, that moderate activity is better at lowering blood pressure, a strong risk factor for stroke.

Researchers also took into account things that affect the risk of stroke like age, aspirin regime and smoking.

Fever and Acute Stroke - A Bad Combination

Tuesday August 4, 2009

Though many people don't know it, the brain is fairly resilient and it is often able to bounce back relatively well  after a stroke.   I have seen people recover to near-normal shape from extensive strokes ,and even from other forms of severe brain damage.  Multiple factors can speed recovery, including adequate rehabilitation, nutrition, and prompt treatments. However, in-hospital complications after stroke can also slow down and sometimes even halt recovery.

Some of these factors include, infections, respiratory problems, and swallowing difficulties. For a long time it has also been suspected that fever can have a negative impact on recovery, and studies are slowly beginning to confirm this.

This is the case with a recent study by the Virtual International Stroke Trial Archive (VISTA) investigators, who compared the outcomes of ischemic stroke patients who were affected by high body temperatures in the acute period of their stroke.

The study  found that high body temperatures, (i.e., hyperthermia) defined as higher than 37.2 degrees Celcius, predicted a poor outcome.   It mattered when in the first week after stroke the high temperatures occurred, with later, rather than earlier, fevers leading to a worse outcome.

The results suggest that neurologists and other doctors treating acute stroke patients in the hospital should implement aggressive measures to suppress fevers and to cool down the body temperature in patients in the first week after stroke.

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