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Tag Archive | "stroke"

What you need to know to control this silent killer


(BPT) – Most people assume they only need to take their medication when they are sick, meaning when they experience symptoms. But in the case of hypertension, this type of thinking could kill you.

Patients who have hypertension are often completely asymptomatic – that’s the reason hypertension is often called the silent killer. The belief that symptoms such as headaches, nose bleeds, nervousness, sweating, difficulty sleeping or facial flushing are signals to take blood pressure medication is a myth.

Nonadherence to hypertension medication is a huge challenge. Research shows that one in three American adults suffer from high blood pressure, but only 47 percent effectively treat their disease to keep blood pressure levels under control.

Higher risk for heart attack, stroke

Express Scripts’ specialist pharmacist Ed Dannemiller recently spoke with a patient who was 40 days late to refill her blood pressure prescription.

“When I asked her about the delay, she said she only takes her medication when she feels stressed or has a headache. The problem with this is that patients with hypertension may feel perfectly fine before suffering a heart attack or stroke,” says Dannemiller.

Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80, but consistent levels above 140/90 require medical attention. Simply keeping a patient’s blood pressure under control decreases the risk of heart attack by 25 percent, stroke by 33 percent and heart failure by 50 percent.

But the only way to have a precise measurement is through a blood pressure reading.

Become an engaged patient

“I encourage patients to become engaged in their own health and keep track of their blood pressure readings, which can help prevent unnecessary hospitalizations or ER visits,” Dannemiller explains.

For patients with white-coat hypertension – those whose blood pressure rises from stress in the doctor’s office – a home blood pressure monitor is a good option.

Dannemiller offers these useful tips for patients monitoring their pressure at home:

* Take blood pressure readings in a seated position with arm at the heart level

* To regulate the monitor, discard the first reading

* Keep a record of your blood pressure levels to bring to your doctor’s appointment

This additional data will help your physician better understand your condition and make better medical decisions to ensure healthier outcomes.

Lifestyle changes can help

In addition to staying adherent to blood pressure medication, regardless of symptoms, the following lifestyle modifications also can improve cardiovascular health:

* Consume a heart-healthy diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables and low in salt, fat and cholesterol

* Engage in regular aerobic physical activity

* Manage your weight, limit alcohol consumption and do not smoke

Value of specialized understanding

“Even with lifestyle modifications, most patients need at least two medications to reach their blood pressure goal,” says Dannemiller.

Intervention and education from specialist pharmacists provide an important resource to improve medication adherence. When patients understand the value of their treatment and embrace good cardiovascular health, they bring a little more noise to this silent killer. For more information, visit lab.express-scripts.com.

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Free stroke screening in May

Tuesday, May 20 at United Lifestyles in Greenville


Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of serious, long-term disability. Are you at risk? Do you know how to recognize the signs or what do if a loved one experiences them?

“When you or a loved one suffers a stroke, it can be a frightening and overwhelming experience,” said Timothy K. Thoits, MD, neurologist, Spectrum Health Medical Group, interim medical director, Spectrum Health Stroke Centers. “It is possible to reduce the damage caused by the most common type of stroke, but only if treatment is given quickly. That’s why it is crucial patients get to a hospital immediately after experiencing symptoms of a stroke.”

N-strokeIn recognition of National Stroke Awareness Month, Spectrum Health is offering free stroke screening and education sessions throughout the month of May.

Depending on where in the brain a stroke occurs and how soon treatment is sought, the effects may be very different.

A stroke occurs most often when blood flow to the brain stops because it is blocked by a clot. The brain cells in the immediate area begin to die because they stop getting the oxygen and nutrients they need to function. This type of stroke is called ischemic stroke. Patients can also suffer from a hemorrhagic stroke that is caused by a blood vessel that breaks and bleeds in the brain.

Regardless of the type of stroke, patients need to be able to recognize the symptoms of a stroke, says Dr. Thoits.

Those symptoms include:

• Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body

• Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech

• Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes

• Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination

• Sudden severe headache with no known cause

In recognition of Stroke Awareness Month, the American Stroke Association is promoting the “FAST” message to help the public easily recall stroke symptoms and know what to do:

• Face – Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

• Arms – Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

• Speech – Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is speech slurred or strange?

• Time – If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Spectrum Health is dedicated to stroke patients and offers a full range of care. Spectrum’s regional community hospital emergency departments are connected to the experts at Butterworth and Blodgett hospitals in Grand Rapids, which are recognized as Primary Stroke Centers, providing the highest level of comprehensive stroke treatments. After a stroke, Spectrum Health offers all levels of specialized rehabilitation therapy services and recovery support. An online stroke risk assessment can be found at www.spectrumhealth.org/strokerisk for those who want to learn their personal risk factors and what they can do to prevent a stroke.

More information about stroke is available at www.spectrumhealth.org/stroke.


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It’s time to talk about stroke

HEA-Stroke-rgbHaving the conversation now could make a difference later


(NAPS)—A stroke can happen to anyone at any time, regardless of race, sex or age. It is a leading cause of death and serious long-term disability that affects nearly 800,000 people in the U.S. each year. Immediate medical attention may limit the effects of stroke, but most people are unaware of the signs and symptoms and what to do if they think someone is having one.

That’s why the National Stroke Association is working with Genentech to launch “Time To Talk,” a national stroke awareness campaign to encourage people to take action by talking with family and friends about the signs and symptoms of stroke and what to do if a stroke occurs.

Bob Steele of Marietta, Georgia learned the importance of being able to recognize a stroke after suffering one himself five years ago. Fortunately, Bob was able to alert his daughter when he realized he was experiencing symptoms of stroke.

“I was outside mowing my lawn when all of a sudden I felt dizzy and fell to the ground,” Bob recalls. “I was lying there, watching my life flash before my eyes, when my daughter thankfully came outside. I knew to tell her I was experiencing a stroke and to call 9-1-1.”

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries blood and oxygen to the brain is blocked by plaque or a blood clot (acute ischemic stroke) or breaks (hemorrhagic stroke). The visible signs and symptoms of stroke include speech impairment, arm numbness and weakness, severe headache, sudden confusion, trouble seeing out of one or both eyes, as well as uncontrollable drooping of the face.

“According to one estimate, approximately 1.9 million brain cells may die after being deprived of oxygen, which is why it is imperative to seek immediate medical attention,” said Sarah Parker, M.D., stroke neurologist at Illinois Neurological Institute in Peoria, Illinois. “There are treatments available if a patient’s symptoms are recognized quickly and they are transported to an emergency room early enough.”

Bob was rushed to the hospital, and thanks to the immediate medical attention he received, Bob is here today to help spread the word about stroke awareness.

“My stroke taught me that life is precious,” said Bob. “I encourage everyone to have the conversation about stroke with family and friends and learn about the signs and symptoms of stroke and what to do if a stroke occurs.”

“Time To Talk” asks individuals to pay it forward by sharing vital information about stroke and the importance of acting quickly. You never know when you might need to help someone around you or yourself. Have the conversation today!

In the event that you or someone you know begins to show signs and symptoms of a stroke, the F.A.S.T. test can be used as a quick screening tool.

For more information, go to www.stroke.org/TimeToTalk.


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Tips to get getter sleep and lower risk of stroke


(NewsUSA) According to David H. Stone, M.D., a vascular surgeon at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and member of the Society for Vascular Surgery, poor sleep is one factor that can lead to stroke.

“Research says less than six hours a night increases the risk of stroke symptoms four-fold among middle-age to older adults who had a normal weight and low risk for obstructive sleep apnea,” said Dr. Stone. “Lack of sleep increases inflammation, blood pressure and the release of certain hormones, which create a greater stress response that increases stroke risk.”

Tips for good sleep: 

*Get a comfortable, firm bed for spine and body support and ease of movement. People with chronic pain can use a heated waterbed, airbed or foam mattress; an electric blanket, or mattress pad on low heat or a wool mattress pad that provides heat are useful for cool or damp nights.

*Temperatures higher than 75 degrees or less than 54 disrupt sleep. Researchers suggest cooler rather than hotter rooms; use a vaporizer or humidifier if needed as moist heat leads to better sleep. Clear space around the bed with only necessary items placed on a nightstand.

*Refrain from stimulants like cigarettes, diet pills and caffeine.

*Avoid electronic devices an hour before you go to bed; they disrupt sleep rhythms.

*Avoid diuretics before bedtime. Unless told to increase fluids by your doctor, reduce them prior to sleep. Eating before bed is not recommended; a glass of warm milk at bedtime is acceptable.

*To wind down, read a chapter of a book, or take a warm bath. To fall asleep, try distraction. Count backwards or try relaxation tapes.

*Go to bed and get up at the same time daily. Afternoon naps are allowed, but not after dinner.

*Get outside on sunny days to regulate your body’s internal clock. Exercise at the same time during the day but not before bed.

*Reset your sleep clock. Go to bed an hour earlier or later each day until you reach the hour you want to go to sleep.

To learn more about your vascular health, visit the Society for Vascular Surgery’s website at www.VascularWeb.org.

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Stroke and Osteoporosis Screenings at Solon Center

Residents living in and around the Cedar Springs, Michigan community can be screened to reduce their risk of having a stroke or bone fracture. Solon Center Wesleyan Church will host Life Line Screenings on Ma 10, 2011, at 15671 Algoma Ave., in Cedar Springs.
Four key points everyone needs to know:
1.    Stroke is the third leading cause of death and a leading cause of permanent disability
2.    80 percent of stroke victims had no apparent warning signs prior to their stroke
3.    Preventive ultrasound screenings can help you avoid a stroke
4.    Screenings are fast, noninvasive, painless, affordable and convenient
Screenings identify potential cardiovascular conditions such as blocked arteries and irregular heart rhythm, abdominal aortic aneurysms, high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries in the legs, which is a strong predictor of heart disease. A bone density screening to assess osteoporosis risk is also offered and is appropriate for both men and women.  Packages start at $139. Screenings take approximately 60-90 minutes to complete.
For more information regarding the screenings or to schedule an appointment, call 1-877-237-1287 or visit our website at www.lifelinescreening.com. Pre-registration is required.

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Ray Winnie
Intandem Credit Union


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