Basic Stroke Information

Posted on: February 21st, 2012 by Chris No Comments

Strokes are very serious. They are the 4th leading cause of death in the United States and they are the leading cause of adult disability. More than 75% of strokes can be prevented which is an extremely high percentage. If people know more about strokes and how to prevent them, these statistics will decrease dramatically. Do you know exactly what a stroke is? Do you know what the signs of a stroke are?

Thankfully Loretta Smith of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio knew the signs and symptoms and made a phone call – all be it an unintended one – that likely saved her life. Ms. Smith, age 70, felt her right side go numb and with her left hand she picked up the phone and intended on dialing her son but instead was one digit off and reached a young man in Denver, Colorado. She said, “I think I’m having a stroke.” He was able to get some basic information from her and he called 911. She was taken in and it was determined that in fact she had had a mini-stroke. Ms. Smith praises him for saving her life. He said, “I do not feel like I’ve done anything special. I didn’t save her. She found me.” You can read the full article by clicking here.

 A stroke occurs when a blood vessel breaks or an artery is blocked by a blood clot, interrupting blood flow to a particular area of the brain. When either of these things occur, brain cells die which causes brain damage. Depending on which part of the brain is effected (where the blood clot or artery blockage occurs) depends on which abilities controlled by that area of the brain are lost. Usually the abilities that are affected include speech, movement, and memory. Some people recover completely from a stroke, but more than 2/3 of stroke survivors will have some kind of lingering disability.

 Stroke signs and symptoms

These are the most simple and common ways to detect a stroke. Remember the acronym F.A.S.T. to help you in your assessment. And as always, with any health issue – if in doubt, dial 911.

There are several risk factors that can be controlled in preventing a stroke. The list of controllable risk factors are: high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, tobacco use, obesity, and alcohol use. Click on the link to learn more about how to prevent a stroke.

  For information about local classes for all your CPR, BLS, ACLS, PALS, and First Aid needs, contact us at: LifeSaver CPR

Protecting the Brain After Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Posted on: January 30th, 2012 by Chris No Comments

Posted January 9th, 2012 by SCAFoundation SCA News

An analysis of multiple studies has shown hypothermia therapy (HT) provides critical benefits for people who suffer cardiac arrest, though it remains under-utilized by hospitals and emergency medical service crews, according to researchers.
Not only did the analysis indicate HT may increase survival among cardiac arrest patients, the therapy also may have protective effects on the brain.
In one study, for example, the survival rate at six months following cardiac arrest was 59 percent for patients who had undergone HT compared to 45 percent among patients who had not.
Meanwhile, 55 percent of patients who had undergone HT showed favorable neurological outcomes – such as the brain returning to complete or at least partial function – compared to 39 percent of non-HT patients.
When a person goes into cardiac arrest, the heart stops pumping, which causes blood to stop circulating to the brain and can lead to neurological damage. However, HT appears to slow the rate of damage and protect the brain from further negative effects when blood begins recirculating.
The results of the analysis fall in line with current medical guidelines: HT has been included in the American Heart Association’s guidelines for cardiac arrest care for nearly a decade.
“Every cardiac arrest patient or cardiac patient who has suffered a neurological event should be cooled absolutely,” said study researcher Dr. Ron Waksman, associate chair of cardiology at the Washington Hospital Center in the nation’s capitol. Ideal application of HT involves cooling the body to 32 to 34 degrees Celsius for 12 to 24 hours.
However, Waksman, who is also professor of medicine and cardiology at Georgetown University, said despite scientific support, the therapy is still not used by enough doctors and emergency medical service crews.
“I think it’s the minority of ambulances that apply HT and have the equipment for it,” Waksman said, adding that there’s no national registry to track HT application. “We have to increase awareness because it can save people in terms of neurological events. It’s in the guidelines, but it’s just not being used.”
Typically, patients who suffer cardiac arrest and undergo CPR have two minutes of no blood supply to the brain, according to Waksman. Even if their heart is restored to normal function, they may suffer from brain damage or memory loss.
“Once you suffer cardiac arrest, there is ongoing damage in the brain,” Waksman said. “The reason for brain damage is lack of oxygen because there is no circulation to the brain.”
After four to five minutes, the brain suffers damage, and even if you reintroduce oxygen to the cells, it can continue to create damage because you’re pumping oxygen onto tissue that has already suffered, he added. HT minimizes the metabolic processes that can potentially induce more damage.
While HT can slow the rate of and minimize damage, it does not heal damage that has already occurred. Therefore, the treatment works best when applied early.
“Time is really important – first, you have to intubate the patient and restore circulation, but once you do that, the next step is to do cold infusion,” Waksman said. “It’s a very non-expensive methodology, which can be done out of the hospital by putting the patient in ice cubes. A medical team can even start with cold infusion.”
But only medical professionals should apply HT, he added. “Laymen should not be pouring ice on cardiac arrest patients in the street.”
The risks of HT include bleeding, infection or shivering during treatment, but are far outweighed by the potential benefits, according to Waksman.
“Those [risks] are relatively mitigated by being able to restore full brain functionality versus being incapacitated or on disability for the rest of your life due to neurological damage,” he said.

SOURCE: Fox News

Chocolate is good for your heart

Posted on: January 12th, 2012 by Chris No Comments

Chocolate may be good for the heart but cardiologists are not giving you a license to indulge.

New research presented at Europe’s biggest medical meeting Monday suggested chocolate consumption might be associated with a one third reduction in the risk of developing heart disease.

Just why there should be such a link was unclear, the European Society of Cardiology congress was told.

There has been a string of scientific studies in recent years showing a potential health benefit from eating chocolate. Dark chocolate, in particular, contains compounds called flavanols thought to be good for the blood system.

In an attempt to paint a clearer picture, Oscar Franco and colleagues from the University of Cambridge pooled results from seven studies involving 100,000 people.

Five of the studies showed a beneficial link between eating chocolate and cardiovascular health, while two did not.

Overall, the findings showed the highest levels of chocolate consumption were associated with a 37 percent reduction in cardiovascular disease and a 29 percent reduction in stroke compared with the lowest levels.

Franco said there were limitations with the pooled analysis, which did not differentiate between dark and milk chocolate, and more research was needed to test whether chocolate actually caused better health outcomes or if it was due to some other confounding factor.

“Evidence does suggest chocolate might have some heart health benefits but we need to find out why that might be,” said Victoria Taylor, of the British Heart Foundation, who was not involved in the research.

“If you want to reduce your heart disease risk, there are much better places to start than at the bottom of a box of chocolates.”

Franco, whose findings were also published online in the British Medical Journal, said while it seemed chocolate had heart benefits, these could easily be outweighed by the unhealthy nature of much confectionery.

“The high sugar and fat content of commercially available chocolate should be considered, and initiatives to reduce it might permit an improved exposure to the beneficial effect of chocolate,” the research team wrote.

Copyright 2012 Thomson Reuters.

Original article can be found here:

To cut heart risk, take blood pressure pills at night

Posted on: December 7th, 2011 by Chris

By Rita Rubin
A small switch in your daily schedule could significantly cut your risk of heart attack and stroke, a new study finds.

Taking blood pressure medications at bedtime instead of in the morning reduces the risk of a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems by about two-thirds, Spanish researchers reported.

The new study adds to a growing body of research that suggests blood pressure medication is more effective when taken before going to sleep instead of upon awakening. But the researchers caution that no one should switch from morning to bedtime dosing without first consulting a doctor and having his or her blood pressure monitored over a 24-hour period.

It’s now well-accepted that heart attacks are more common in the morning than the evening, says Michael Smolensky of the biomedical engineering department at the University of Texas at Austin. Smolensky wasn’t a coauthor on the new report but has collaborated with the authors.

Less widely accepted is the notion that blood pressure varies over the course of the day, so one or two readings in the doctor’s office doesn’t tell the whole story, says Smolensky, co-editor of the journal Chronobiology International.

“Mother Nature had in mind that when we went to sleep at night our heart rate and blood pressure would decline” to give our cardiovascular system a rest, Smolensky says. But, he says, people with high blood pressure are less likely to experience that nightly dip, which puts them at a greater risk of complications.

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Cardiac Deaths Tied to Bad AED Batteries

Posted on: September 4th, 2011 by Chris

When Ralph Polanec collapsed June 25 at his Washington, D.C., gym, staff members thought they could save him with a shock from their automated external defibrillator. But when they tried to turn it on, nothing happened. The device didn’t even flicker. The gym’s staff later discovered that the AED’s batteries had been removed when they lost their charge — and had never been replaced.

That battery failure might have been Polanec’s death sentence. His heart never restarted, despite CPR from a friend and later treatment from emergency responders.

His stepmother, Ruth L. Polanec, was stunned when she learned the details of his death.

“He was just 55 years old,” said the 77-year-old Mesa, Ariz., woman. “He shouldn’t have died. I was very upset that the equipment wasn’t working, because if it had been working, it might have saved him. I just felt horrible that a young man should pass away when we have so much modern equipment today. But it’s no good if it doesn’t work.”

As it turns out, battery problems are one of the leading causes of potentially deadly AED failures, according to a new study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Some 1,150 deaths were tied to AED failures over a 15-year period, and nearly one in four of those failures was caused by problems with batteries, according to researchers who pored through nearly 41,000 reports of adverse events associated with the devices.

Problems with wiring and with the pads that attach to the patient’s chest accounted for other top concerns, said Dr. Lawrence A. DeLuca, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Arizona.

AEDs seem to be ubiquitous these days, popping up everywhere from fitness clubs and apartment complexes to airports and private homes. A recent survey by the independent market research publisher Kalorama Information suggested that AEDs for home use will be booming over the next couple of years — jumping more than 17 percent over the next couple of years. An estimated 1.5 million AEDs are sold a year, based on 2009 figures, according to Kalorama’s research.

DeLuca was spurred to find out about the reliability of AEDs after having one fail on him.

Device malfunction spurred study

On vacation in the summer of 2008, DeLuca was summoned to use a defibrillator on a man who’d just gone into cardiac arrest. Two other vacationing doctors had been administering CPR when DeLuca arrived.

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Chest pain severity is not a heart attack indicator

Posted on: August 24th, 2011 by Chris

A high degree of pain does not make it any more likely that someone coming into the emergency room with chest pains is having a heart attack, researchers found in a study of more than 3,000 patients.

The most severe chest pain was not a good predictor of which patients were actually having a myocardial infarction, or heart attack, nor of which patients were most prone to having one within the next month.

Conversely, “If chest pain isn’t severe, that doesn’t mean it’s not a heart attack,” said Dr. Anna Marie Chang, an author of the study and an emergency physician at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Using a scale of zero to 10, with zero representing no pain and 10 being the worst imaginable, researchers gauged the pain levels of about 3,300 patients who arrived at the UPenn hospital emergency department complaining of chest pain. They then followed the patients for 30 days to see who had further heart-related events.

Patients with the most severe chest pain were no more likely to be having a heart attack, or to have one within the next month, than patients with lesser pain. Pain that lasted more than an hour was also not a useful sign of a heart attack versus other conditions.

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Couch Potato Kids Have Narrowed Arteries

Posted on: July 22nd, 2011 by Chris

For kids, too much time spent in front of a computer or TV screen can lead to narrowed arteries in the back of the eyes — an early sign of high blood pressure and future heart disease, according to a new study.

Kids who exercised an hour or more each day had wider arteries there than did children who spent a half hour or less each day being active, the study said.

And the more time spent watching TV, the narrower the arteries were, which translates to an increase in blood pressure. The arterial narrowing from each hour of screen time would lead to a 10 millimeter of mercury (mm HG) increase in systolic blood pressure (the top number on a blood pressure reading), researchers said.

For a child who is already borderline for high blood pressure, that 10-point increase can be a lot, said Dr. John Stevens Jr., director of preventive cardiology at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Sibley Heart Center in Georgia.

“It’s more evidence that you can see effects at early life of unhealthy habits,” Stevens, who was not involved with the study, told MyHealthNewsDaily.

The study was published today (April 20) in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Translating screen time to artery health

Australian researchers surveyed the parents of 1,492 children age 6 or 7 on the number of hours their children spend being physically active and sedentary each week.

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1 in 7 strokes happens during sleep

Posted on: June 9th, 2011 by Chris

Nearly 15 percent of people who have a stroke are not eligible for clot-busting treatment because the stroke happened while they slept, a new study reports.

Clot-busting drugs can prevent permanent disability after a stroke – but the treatment must be given within a four-and-a-half-hour window after the stroke symptoms begin. Since people who have a stroke while asleep can’t know when it occurred, they can’t get the treatment if they slept for more than four and a half hours, explained study author Dr. Jason Mackey at the University of Cincinnati. “They can’t get the drug,” he said. “That’s a big issue.”

When Mackey and his colleagues compared these so-called “wake-up” strokes to strokes that occur during the day, they saw no major differences between the two types, indicating that the same advice for preventing and treating daytime strokes applies to those that take place while asleep, he told Reuters Health.

Strokes that occur while people are asleep or awake are “largely indistinguishable,” he noted, so people concerned about either type should focus on staying generally healthy, controlling their blood pressure, eating well, exercising, and checking their cholesterol.

Stroke can be treated if people act quickly, Mackey added, so anyone who wakes up with typical signs – such as trouble speaking or walking, or weakness on one side in the arm, face or leg – should work fast. “If you suspect anyone is having a stroke, the important thing is to call 911 immediately.”

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States, after heart disease and cancer.

To investigate how many strokes occur during sleep, and whether they differ from strokes that begin while people are awake, Mackey and his team reviewed medical records from people who came to emergency rooms in Ohio and Kentucky in 2005.

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It only takes a few pain pills to increase heart risks

Posted on: May 23rd, 2011 by Chris

Some anti-inflammatory painkillers are known to increase heart risks, and new findings from more than 83,000 people suggest that even a couple of days of treatment can be dangerous in people with a history of heart problems.

A group of researchers from Denmark found that people who had experienced a heart attack and took the painkillers, called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), had a 45 percent higher risk of having another heart attack or dying within 7 days of treatment.

After 30 days of treatment, the increased risk reached between 55 and 65 percent, relative to people who did not take NSAIDs.

“We demonstrated that short-term treatment with most NSAIDs is associated with increased cardiovascular risk,” study author Anne-Marie Schjerning Olsen at Copenhagen University Hospital told Reuters Health. “Our present results indicate that there is no apparent safe therapeutic window for NSAIDs in patients with prior” heart attack.

These findings “fall very much in line” with a 2007 scientific statement from the American Heart Association, co-authored by Dr. Elliott Antman, which also suggested that “none of these (drugs) are safe,” Antman told Reuters Health.

When people with heart risks have pain that isn’t responding to non-drug interventions, they should “pick the safest drug in the lowest dose needed to control the patient’s symptoms, and for the shortest period of time,” Antman said.

NSAIDs include over-the-counter medications like aspirin, ibuprofen (marketed as Advil, Motrin and other brands) and naproxen (Aleve), as well as prescription arthritis drugs known as COX-2 inhibitors.

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Long work days can harm your heart

Posted on: May 4th, 2011 by Chris

LONDON — People who regularly work long hours may be significantly increasing their risk of developing heart disease, the world’s biggest killer, British scientists said Monday.

Researchers said a long-term study showed that working more than 11 hours a day increased the risk of heart disease by 67 percent, compared with working a standard 7 to 8 hours a day.

They said the findings suggest that information on working hours — used alongside other factors like blood pressure, diabetes and smoking habits — could help doctors work out a patient’s risk of heart disease.

However, they also said it was not yet clear whether long working hours themselves contribute to heart disease risk, or whether they act as a “marker” of other factors that can harm heart health — like unhealthy eating habits, a lack of exercise or depression.

“This study might make us think twice about the old adage ‘hard work won’t kill you’,” said Stephen Holgate, chair of the population and systems medicine board at Britain’s Medical Research Council, which part-funded the study.

The study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine journal, followed nearly 7,100 British workers for 11 years.

“Working long days is associated with a remarkable increase in risk of heart disease,” said Mika Kivimaki of Britain’s University College London, who led the research. He said it may be a “wake-up call for people who overwork themselves.”

“Considering that including a measurement of working hours in a (doctor’s) interview is so simple and useful, our research presents a strong case that it should become standard practice,” he said.

The findings of this study support previous research showing a link between working hours and heart disease.

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