“Never been sick in my life” – so how could she have a stroke?

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

”   The doctor showed me an x-ray of my brain. He pointed to a small spot and told me, ‘That’s where the blood vessel burst in your brain!’ It was surreal.”

My heart sister Dina Piersawl (affectionately known to some of us as Dee Mad Scientist) had just celebrated her 41st birthday when she survived an ischemic stroke. A professional scientist – and a former athlete and personal trainer in Chicago who describes herself as “never been sick in my life” – Dina sure didn’t look or feel like any stereotypical stroke patient you might imagine. Continue reading ““Never been sick in my life” – so how could she have a stroke?”

Cathy’s stroke: “Nobody noticed my husband”

                                   What to look for during a stroke

Guest post by Cathy Aumack-Bandy *

We all know someone who has had a stroke. For many, it’s a friend. For some, a relative. A spouse? A partner? A parent? Maybe even a child.

Stroke is one of those events that most people fear – and rightly so. Maybe it’s because so many times, it seems to come out of nowhere. It strikes a person down without warning. And, once it makes an appearance, stroke shows no mercy. It leaves much in its ruin. It changes people. It changes lives forever – and that’s even in the best case scenario. Continue reading “Cathy’s stroke: “Nobody noticed my husband””

Dr. John Mandrola: “AFib is your body talking to you”

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

If you or somebody you care about has been diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation (AF),  you likely already know this about the diagnosis: it’s an irregular heart rhythm affecting the heart’s upper chambers (the right and left atria) – and it’s also the most common heart-related reason for hospital admission. As Kentucky cardiologist Dr. John Mandrola likes to describe the disorder:

“AF is both a disease and a consequence of actions. It’s your body talking to you.”

Dr. John is a bike racer and one of my favourite writers in cardiology. As my heart sister Jaynie Martz once sized up his writing: “concise, charming, compassionately light, adult-to-adult, uber-digestible with nary a whiff of condescension or pomposity.” Amen, Jaynie.  His particular cardiac specialty is electrophysiology, the diagnosis and treatment of heart rhythm disorders. Here’s his overall take on the diagnosis of atrial fibrillation, as delivered to a Utah conference of his fellow electrophysiologists recently: Continue reading “Dr. John Mandrola: “AFib is your body talking to you””

Cheap, quick bedside tests better than MRI in diagnosing strokes?

eye test

by Carolyn Thomas

Do you remember as little kids when we liked to spin round and round very fast so that when we stopped, we’d stagger around in a state of delicious dizziness?  As adults, though, feeling dizzy is not fun.  In fact, dizziness is responsible for millions of visits to hospital emergency departments each year.  While most cases are likely caused by benign inner-ear balance problems, about 4% are signals of cardiovascular disease such as stroke or Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA – a condition that often warns of impending stroke in the coming days or weeks).

About half of these dizzy patients who are experiencing strokes show none of the classic stroke symptoms like one-sided weakness, numbness or speech problems.  In fact, some estimates put the number of misdiagnoses as high as one-third, losing the chance for quick and effective stroke treatment.

Just as the rule for getting immediate help during a heart attack is: Time is muscle” – in stroke circles, doctors say: “Time is brain”.   Continue reading “Cheap, quick bedside tests better than MRI in diagnosing strokes?”

Love your morning coffee, ladies? The more you drink, the lower your risk of stroke

coffee brownHere’s good news for women who drink coffee.  Lots of coffee.  Apparently women who drink four or more cups of coffee per day have a lower risk of stroke than women who don’t drink coffee. Research published in Circulation: The Journal of the American Heart Association looked at data collected in the Nurses’ Health Study, one of the largest collections of scientific data ever collated.

Begun in 1980, the Nurses’ Health Study tracked over 83,000 women for 24 years. The women, all medical health professionals, started the study with no history of heart disease, stroke, diabetes or cancer.

After factoring out other habits such as smoking and exercise, the study found that women who drink coffee have a significantly lower risk of stroke, and that the risk decreased further the more coffee the women drank.  Continue reading “Love your morning coffee, ladies? The more you drink, the lower your risk of stroke”