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Stroke Smart Magazine

May/June 2007

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Viagra and Stroke

Currently, researchers at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit are studying whether or not the little blue pill can help those who have had a moderate ischemic stroke.  A couple dozen studies are underway, testing Viagra’s effect on a range of problems ranging from high blood pressure during pregnancy to heart failure.


Treating Post-stroke Depression

Post-stroke depression has long been associated with higher death rates, lower rates of recovery and increased risk for recurrent stroke.  Researchers in Indianapolis are using a three-step system in dealing with post-stroke depression: Getting patients to understand depression diagnosis and treatment; prescribing antidepressants; and monitoring treatment.  In this, researchers have found that 39 percent of patients had complete remission under their 12 weeks of treatment.  This is in comparison to 23 percent of patients obtaining remission with usual care.


Spiritual Beliefs Impact Stroke Recovery

Italian researchers are finding that people with strong spiritual beliefs are coping better after surviving a stroke.  Researchers interviewed 132 stroke survivors about anxiety and depression.  In those interviewed, those who scored highest on the anxiety and depression scales also scored lower on issues of spiritual and religious belief.  These same patients were seen as being less independent in their daily living.  Further research is still needed, however, to assess long-term impact of spiritual and religious beliefs from stroke.


Robotic Hand Therapy

A new robotic device is enhancing stroke patient’s ability to grasp and release objects with their hands.  University of California at Irvine researchers, lead by Dr. Steven C. Cramer, have authored a study which has found that patients using the Hand-Wrist Assisting Robotic Device (HOWARD) are regaining strength and use of their hands.

There have already been studies conducted on shoulder and leg robots.  HOWARD is the first robot that is attempting to assist in hand functions. 

In the UCI study, which treatment was spread over three weeks, patients were seen to improve in their hands ability to grasp and release objects.  Patient’s range of motion was increased by 17 percent and tasks involving grasping objects were enhanced by 10 percent after patients worked with HOWARD.


The Weekend Effect and Stroke

A study published by Canadian researchers has found that patients hospitalized for ischemic stroke on the weekend have a higher rate of death than if a patient is admitted on a weekday.

Researchers found that those patients who are admitted to a hospital on the weekends have a 14 percent higher risk of death within seven days after admission.  This “weekend effect” is even greater if patients are admitted to a rural hospital as opposed to an urban one.  Researchers have surmised that this increase may be on account of the lack of resources or specialists during the weekend, however this is not entirely substantiated.


Nerve Stimulation Device Assists with Calf Spasms

Stroke patients with calf spasms as a chronic effect of stroke have new hope.  A transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) device has been seen to reduce calf spasms all while significantly improving a patient’s walking speed.  TENS works by sending an electrical current from a small battery pack through two electrodes that are attached to the skin.

Stroke Symptoms not Taken Seriously

Researchers at the University of Alabama Birmingham have concluded studies which suggest that half of the people that experience stroke symptoms do not seek medical treatment.  One of the reasons that may have contributed to this statistic is that many have lower incomes and they may not have health insurance.


Unrecognized High Cholesterol to Blame for TIA

In a study of 1,040 people hospitalized for transient ischemic attack (TIA), researchers found an alarming rate of 27 percent of these individuals had high cholesterol levels.  If the high levels had been recognized it is estimated that 93 percent of the individuals could have been placed on cholesterol drugs, which can reduce the risk of stroke.



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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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