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Stroke Smart Magazine

January/February 2007

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Red Wine May Help Reduce Stroke Damage to Brain
A couple of glasses of red wine a day may not only guard you against cancer and heart disease, but may also help protect the brain from damage after a stroke, according to a new study.

Scientists at John Hopkins University recently studied mice that were given resveratrol, a compound found in red grape skins and seeds.  What they found was that the mice who were given the compound prior to having a stroke, suffered less brain damage compared to the mice that were not treated.  During the study, resveratrol was shown to increase cells, known to protect the brain against damage. The process of turning grapes into wine further boosts the concentration of resveratrol.

“What is unique about this study is we have somewhat identified what can be the specific mechanism in the wine that is good for health,” said Sylvain Dore, the lead researcher for the study.  “Here we are building cell resistance against free radical damage.”

While the initial research is promising further studies are needed to see if resveratrol will have the same effects on humans as it did in mice.

Air Pollution and Hemorrhagic Strokes
For years scientist have looked at and studied the link between air pollution and the risk of ischemic stroke. It has been determined that increased exposure to polluted air can increase the risk of stroke. But a recent study conducted in Japan showed that air pollution in the summer more than doubles the risk of hemorrhagic stroke in people over 65.

Researchers collected data for five years and compared the death records from 13 Japanese cities that also reported the time of day pollution levels were high.  They focused their study on people who lived in Metropolitan areas and who died from an ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke. It was determined that more fatal hemorrhagic strokes among people 65 or older were a result of increased pollution.

Japanese researchers recommend improving air quality standards to help prevent deaths from stroke as a result of air pollution.

tPA Alternative Tested as Stroke Treatment
Scientists are currently studying the effects of Activated protein C (APC), a new drug that looks promising in the treatment of stroke. APC could provide doctors and patients with another option to reduce brain damage as a result of stroke. The new drug is for use in clot-related stroke, which makes up 80 to 90 percent of all cases.

Unlike tPA, which dissolves blood clots that cause stroke, APC protects cells and reduces inflammation in the brain. Initial tests performed on animals have been successful and they are hoping for the same results in humans. As published in Nature Medicine, APC reduced the impact of stroke by 70 percent.

Another benefit of APC is that it has been shown to be effective within six hours of symptoms, allowing people more time to seek treatment and possibly stop stroke damage.  TPA has to be given within three hours of first stroke symptom to work.

Researchers are looking for 72 patients who have not or can’t use TPA to participate in the trial.  The trial will take place at several hospitals including the University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester General Hospital, the University of California at Irvine, Washington University in St. Louis and Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City.

Stroke Deaths on the Rise
Stroke is moving up the ladder and is currently the second leading cause of death in the world. By 2030 stroke is projected to be the #1 cause of death surpassing heart disease. There is however some good news.  In the U.S. the number of people having a stroke has declined 

These statistics were released in October during the World Stroke Congress in South Africa. While there has been a decline in death rates by other major diseases, the rise in stroke can be blamed on a lack of public awareness of prevention and the need for improved stroke treatments.  High profile diseases such as cancer has made great progress because they receive substantial funding that goes towards treatments, whereas less know diseases such as stroke receive less attention and often time less funding.  The meetings called for a change and more research in the field of stroke

To make improvements in those areas there is a need for increased funding to go towards stroke research,” said Vladimir Hachinski, cochair of the World Stroke Congress.  “Cancer deserves all its funding, but stroke deserves to be well supported too.  Stroke changes your soul. You are not the same person after a stroke.

To reduce the number of deaths caused by stroke, there is also an increased need for better public education to teach prevention, symptoms, and treatments.

Wal-Mart Reduces Generic Drug Prices
Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer announced in October they will lower prescription drug costs for their customers and employees.  The generic drug program will allow people to purchase up to a 30-day supply of generic drugs for $4. The program is currently available nationwide (except in North Dakota) at all Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club and Neighborhood Market pharmacies.

Store pharmacies will carry more than 300 generic drugs that treat a variety of medical conditions, including cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes.  The program is available to those with or without insurance.

Misdiagnosed Stroke Patient Awarded Big Bucks in Court Case
A Florida jury awarded $217 million in damages to a man whose stroke symptoms were misdiagnosed.

Allan Navarro, 50, went to the hospital experiencing nausea, headache, dizziness and double vision.  After raising concerns about his family history of stroke, he was diagnosed with a severe case of sinusitis, and was released from the hospital.  The next morning he returned in worse condition and had in fact suffered a stroke.

Stroke is an emergency and time is critical. With early diagnosis there is a possibility he could have been treated with a drug called tPA.  TPA is a drug that helps dissolve blood clots that cause ischemic stroke. Studies have shown that tPA given within three hours of the first symptoms can reduce the amount of damage and better patient’s chances for recovery.

The once active athletic who played professional basketball in the Philippines, is now in a wheelchair.

Robots May Improve Stroke Patient Care
Because stroke is an emergency it is important that when people come into the hospital with stroke symptoms they are treated immediately. When there is no neurologist on call at some hospitals, robots are now filling the gap.

Hi-tech robots equipped with infrared sensors allow physicians or specialists who can’t be there in person to “virtually” interact and talk with patients and nurses about the best treatments at a moments notice. If a doctor is away from the hospital they only need to use a laptop and joystick to guide the robot to the patient, where they can review medical charts and make critical time-sensitive assessments.

“Our window of opportunity for effective treatment is within three hours of the onset of stroke symptoms.  This robotic technology gives us quicker access to the patients and timeliness is everything in helping a stroke patient recovers,” said Dr. David Chiu, medical director of the Eddy Scurlock Stroke Center. 

These robots can be found at select hospitals including those participating in the Michigan Stroke Network and The Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas. Check with your local hospital to see if this latest technology is available.

Stroke Patients Unaware They are Having a Stroke
The majority of Americans do not know the signs and symptoms of a stroke.  As a result many people are unaware they are having a stroke or a transient ischemic attack (TIA).

A TIA is where the blood flow to the brain is briefly interrupted, causing stroke-like symptoms that are temporary.  Often, TIA’s are the first signs that you could have a more serious stroke. But often times the symptoms go ignored.  Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., conducted a study to find out why people came to the hospital long after symptoms. 

A total of 220 patients participated in the study.  They found that about 59 percent of patients did not think they were having a stroke.  Only 30.5 percent of women knew they were having a stroke compared to 43.4 percent of men.  More than half delayed going to the hospital because they thought symptoms would go away.

The end result of the study is that public awareness and education needs to be improved.

Singer Ruth Brown dies from Stroke
Grammy winner, Tony winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Ruth Brown died at the age of 78 from complications of a stroke.

Her soulful voice produced many hit songs including, “Teardrops in My Eyes” and “(Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean”.

“Ruth was one of the most important and beloved figures in modern music,” said singer Bonnie Raitt in a statement.  “You can hear her influence in everyone from Little Richard to Etta (James), Aretha (Franklin), Janis (Joplin) and divas like Christina Aguilera today.  She was my dear friend, and I will miss her terribly.”

Through the formation of her Rhythm & Blues Foundation Ruth was a voice for the rights of aging R&B muscians, which helped to provide financial and medical assistance as well as a way to preserve the historical and cultural influence of the music.

U.S. Congressman Recovers from Stroke
In September, U.S. Representative Mike Castle suffered a series of small strokes. The Delaware congressman was sidelined for more than a month, but was able to return to the campaign trail to continue his run for re-election. 

In November voters sent Castle back to Congress for an eighth term, making him Delaware’s longest-serving congressman. He is expected to make a full recovery.

Childhood Leukemia has Link to Stroke
A new study shows people who were treated with radiation for leukemia or brain tumors as a child, have a greater risk for having a stroke later in life.

The reason for the increased risk can be blamed on radiation treatments being done during a critical period where the brain is still developing, causing long-term health problems. The study examined 4,800 leukemia survivors and more than 1,800 brain tumor survivors to compare their health to a sibling.  Those who suffered a brain disease were more likely to have a stroke compared to a healthy brother of sister.

In all 37 of the leukemia survivors had a stroke five or more years after being diagnosed with cancer. A total of 63 people who had brain tumors also suffered a stroke in later years.


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National Stroke Association’s mission is to reduce the incidence and impact of stroke by developing compelling education and programs focused on prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and support for all impacted by stroke.

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