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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
After a stroke many people complain that their brain capacity is just "not the same". They simply aren't as "quick witted as they used to be", and they forget names more easily. Though there is no miracle cure for that feeling of slow mental function, and NO medicines that can help, there is one thing you can do to sharpen your mind: Exercise. Yes, plane old exercise will surely make your brain work better.
This is a concept that over the years has been tested over and over again, and time and time again it shows positive results. Exercise makes blood flow faster through your brain, bringing essential nutrients, and removing the harmful toxic byproducts of your brain's metabolism a lot more frequently - yes, your brain makes a whole lot of toxic waste just by thinking, and having an inefficient clean-up system is a sure way to worsen your brain function over time. I strongly recommend a book called "Brain Rules", by Dr John Medina, who quite nicely summarizes the research that has made this concept evolve over the years in his first chapter.
By definition a TIA is a brief episode of a given neurological abnormality that resolves on its own, and by definition, TIA sufferers recover completely within a few minutes (or a few hours, at the most). No big deal then, right? Actually this is a big, big deal as the studies have shown over and over again that a TIA is a warning sign that a stroke is about to happen. And the problem is that patients and many medical professionals fail to acknowledge the significance of the event.
This is why a key aspect in the care given to TIA patients is performing a full medical workup rapidly after the TIA occurs. This is done with the intention of looking for potential sources of stroke, such as blood clots inside the heart, cholesterol plaques in the carotid arteries, and atherosclerotic plaques inside the brain's blood vessels.
And not surprisingly, stroke hospitals (those with stroke units) appear to be better than other hospitals at doing this. This is probably due to the presence of stroke experts in their facilities, which guarantees that patients with TIAs undergo rapid and thorough testing. This was shown in a recent article in the Medical Journal of Australia.
And the usual suspects also tend to increase the risk of stroke in pregnancy. Thus, women who smoke, who are older, or who already suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol, tend to have an increased risk of stroke during pregnancy.
Now I am happy to report that a new retrospective study by investigators at the NIH has identified some risk factors for poor outcomes after an intracranial stent procedure. This is important going forward as it will help identify those people who can benefit or be harmed from intracranial stenting procedures. The major risk factors identified included "posterior circulation" procedures, which refers to a group of blood vessels in the back of the brain. Interestingly, the hospital where the stenting procedure is performed also influenced the outcome so that hospitals where these procedures are not so common have worse outcomes. Another important factor was the timing of the stent placement, with worse outcomes when the procedure was performed fewer than 10 days after the event that prompted the decision to place it in the first place (e.g., stroke, tia, etc). Finally, people did worse when stroke was the reason for stenting.
Overall, the rate of stroke or death at 30 days was 9.2%. You can see more about this study in the original article, which is now published in the journal Neurology.