Fact: Up to 80% of strokes can be prevented!

Has that caught your attention?  It certainly caught my attention!

While not all stroke risk factors can be controlled, some can.  One of the risk factors that you can control is Atrial Fibrillation, commonly called AFib. This is a heart condition that causes your heart to beat abnormally. However, AFib is tricky—you may not be aware that you have it.

Amy Herron
Senior Coordinator, Programs
National Stroke Association

 

What You Should Know About The 6 Early Warning Signs Of Alzheimer’s Disease

Lately, the fear of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is scary…mainly because they say it is hereditary!  Meredith Rodgers put together this article and the infographic to guide people going through this.

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There is a form of dementia that results in cognitive and memory loss. According to Alzheimer’s Association, AD is one of the leading causes of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80 percent of patients diagnosed with dementia. Dementia is a serious condition that leads to loss of memory and intellectual reasoning which can affect one’s daily life.

Alzheimer’s disease usually results in the death of brain cells, which leads to the decline of memory and cognitive function over a period of time. Initially, patients with this condition are likely to have problems remembering things and mild confusion. In late stages of AD, it can worsen to the point that the patient is unable to converse or reason with people. Patients with Alzheimer’s require full-time support and care from their families and friends so that they can go on with their daily life. Support provided could involve helping them dress up or assistance during meal times.

The main factor contributing to Alzheimer’s disease is aging. As you age, this disease tends to get more severe. Most people who have this condition are above the age of 65. However, it is not normal for older people to have Alzheimer’s disease as they age. About 200,000 citizens of America experience early onset of Alzheimer’s disease while still in their 40s or 50s.

It is difficult to diagnose the early onset of Alzheimer’s disease because doctors don’t look for warning signs in young people. Thus, doctors may wrongly diagnose symptoms of Alzheimer’s for stress. For a successful diagnosis to happen, a comprehensive health evaluation will need to be carried out by a doctor. It is not yet known what causes the early onset of AD. However, scientists believe that specific rare genes that are inherited could play a role. Even though Alzheimer’s disease has no cure, patients with this condition can take treatment to reduce the progression of the disease. This might help them live a happy and fulfilling life.  

Early warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease

It is normal for people to forget stuff, for example, where you placed the keys. However, if this happens too often, it could be an early warning sign of AD. Most of the time people who have problems remembering things also experience difficulty in communication, focus, and reasoning. If this happens to you or your loved one, you will need to visit a doctor for medical evaluation. A doctor will perform a thorough evaluation to try and identify the root cause of your memory problems. If successfully diagnosed, Alzheimer’s patients may commence treatment to help improve their quality of life. The following are the most common early signs of AD which you need to look out for.

  1. Memory loss

Difficulty remembering stuff like names or new information is an early warning sign of AD. Initially, your short-term memory will be affected but with time, you may have problems with your long-term memory as well. Hence, you might find yourself having problems remembering important events that happened in your life. In addition, it is common to find people with memory loss asking the same question repeatedly. This is because they cannot store information in their memory.

  1. Problems communicating

This is another early warning sign of Alzheimer’s. People with AD normally have problems finding the right words to explain their themselves. Therefore, it can be hard to chat with someone with Alzheimer’s disease.

  1. Difficulty conducting routine tasks

If you have Alzheimer’s disease, you might find it difficult doing routine tasks like cooking or playing a game like chess. Doing tasks that seemed obvious before might seem a challenge to do them now.

  1. Personality and mood change

You may experience changes in mood such as depression as an early warning sign of Alzheimer’s. Also, this condition may result in personality changes, for example, going from being a shy to outgoing person.

  1. Difficulty solving problems 

If you have problems making decisions or solving problems, it could be an early sign of AD. For example, you might find it hard to follow a recipe or pay your bills. Also, you might find yourself placing your stuff in the wrong place. For example your cell phone in a fridge.

  1. Apathy

That means you might lose interest in activities you used to enjoy, including your hobbies. If you used to like going out and having fun with friends, now you might find it less amusing. Also, you may find yourself spending less time with your loved ones.

If you experience one or more of these symptoms, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have AD. However, you should not just ignore symptoms like memory or cognitive problems. The best thing to do is to visit a doctor so that they can determine if your signs and symptoms are as a result of Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer's Disease Signs and Symptoms

Alzheimer’s Disease Signs and Symptoms, courtesy of GeriatricNursing.org

I woke up again…and I am still 60!

I can’t stop thinking about this!  I am still 60 years old.

In reflecting… I had good intentions, but I haven’t helped anybody achieve their dreams. I look at this as a failure in life…if I can’t help others.

Now I am 60 with nothing to show for it…and I don’t have much time left!  But at least now, I am going to savor each moment with the time I do have left.

I asked my wife of 28 years: what happened to my big dreams? She answered that question with a kiss. Isn’t she a great wife?

I would like to give back to other struggling entrepreneurs. Can I show them how to succeed in sales? I have been out of sales for 10 years (a stroke thing). Do I still have what it takes?? I would like to do the things that people really want: all the ins and outs of sales. I would like to help them…no compensation…but with the fact that I was doing something nice.

Where do I start? Please call or write to me.

 

More about No Shave November…

1. YOU’RE SUPPORTING CANCER AWARENESS.

While you’re growing out your beard for the month, you’re likely to tell people about why you’re doing it. It’s a great conversation starter, and can really generate a huge conversation about cancer. It can get more people to make sure they’re getting regular checks for prostate cancer, breast cancer, melanoma, etc.

2. IF YOU’RE DOING IT RIGHT, YOU’RE DONATING MONEY TO CANCER RESEARCH.

To properly participate in No Shave November, you should be donating the money that you aren’t spending on razors and shaving accessories to a cancer research organization, such as the Prevent Cancer Foundation, Fight Colorectal Cancer, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Don’t just participate in No Shave November to grow an awesome beard — make it worthwhile and donate the money you’re saving to cancer research!

3. YOU’RE GAINING HEALTH BENEFITS.

There’s more to growing out your beard than just getting a new look. There’s actually health benefits, too! A beard is a natural toxin filter — it keeps things like pollen and dust from getting into your lungs, because they’re clinging to your beard instead.

It can also help prevent blemishes. Shaving gives you a risk of getting bacteria into your skin, especially if you’re not using proper methods. Growing out a beard can combat this.

November is when the weather really starts getting cold, and a beard can act like a scarf for your face and neck. It’s really the perfect time to stop shaving!

Lastly, a beard can help with sun protection. Obviously you will still need to apply sunscreen, because hair isn’t going to block out 100% of the sun’s UV rays, but it’s been proven that a beard can block up to 95% of them! What better way to support cancer awareness than actually practicing it?

I am happy I’m not depressed!

Posted by Amy Norton, HealthDay Reporter

People with depression tend to die earlier than expected—a pattern that has grown stronger among women in recent years, new research finds.

The study followed thousands of Canadian adults between 1952 and 2011. Overall, it found people with depression had a higher death rate versus those without the mood disorder. The link only emerged among women starting in the 1990s. Yet by the end of the study, depression was affecting men’s and women’s longevity equally.

The findings do not prove that depression itself shaves years off people’s lives, said lead researcher Stephen Gilman.

The study could not account for the effects of physical health conditions, for example.
“So one explanation could be that people with depression were more likely to have a chronic condition,” said Gilman, of the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. But even if that were true, he added, it would not mean that depression bears no blame—because depression can take a toll on physical health.

“Many studies have found that people with depression have higher risks of heart disease and stroke, for example,” Gilman said.

The findings are based on 3,410 Canadian adults who were followed for up to several decades. The first wave of participants was interviewed in 1952, the next in 1970, and the final in 1992.

At each wave, roughly 6 percent of adults had depression, based on a standard evaluation.

And on average, those people had a shorter life span. For example, a 25-year-old man who was depressed in 1952 could expect to live another 39 years, on average. That compared with 51 years for a man without depression.

Men with depression at any point had a higher risk of dying over the coming years, versus those free of the disorder.

The picture was different for women, though. The connection between depression and mortality only surfaced in the 1990s.

Women with depression at that point were 51 percent more likely to die by 2011, compared with other women. That brought their risk on par with depressed men.

The reasons are unclear. “Why would depression be less toxic to women at one time point than another?” Gilman said.

He speculated that societal shifts have some role. Women in recent decades have been much more likely to juggle work and home life, or be single mothers, for example.

Another possibility, Gilman said, is that women tend to suffer more severe depression these days.

There was some evidence that the impact of depression lessened over time. Men with depression in 1952 no longer showed a higher death risk after 1968, for example—unless they also had depression at the later interviews, too.

As for causes of death, there was no evidence that suicides explained the risks among people with depression.

“There were actually few suicides,” Gilman said. “People with depression died of the same causes that other people did — like cardiovascular disease and cancer.”

Dr. Aaron Pinkhasov is chairman of behavioral health at NYU Winthrop Hospital in Mineola, N.Y. He said depression can indirectly shorten life span in a number of ways. Depressed people are less able to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and are more vulnerable to smoking and drinking. They may also be less equipped to manage any physical health conditions.

“Once depression sets in, you may not have the motivation or energy,” said Pinkhasov, who was not involved with the research.

Gilman said his study can’t say whether treating depression erases the higher death risk associated with it.

But, Pinkhasov said, there is evidence that depression treatment can help people better control high blood pressure and diabetes, for example.

He stressed that there are various effective treatments—from “talk therapy” to medication.

“Don’t blame yourself for being ‘weak,’ or tell yourself you should just snap out of it,” Pinkhasov said John Hamilton, a counselor at Mountainside Treatment Center in Canaan, Conn., agreed.

He said that women, in particular, can have a “sense of shame” over mental health symptoms in part because they feel they need to be the rock of the family. “They might even have people around them saying, ‘Snap out of it, you have kids,'” said Hamilton, who also had no role in the study.

“But depression is no different from any other chronic disease,” he said. “We need to have a compassionate, nonjudgmental approach to it.”

The results were published Oct. 23 in the journal CMAJ.

Copyright © 2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Holy cow…I am 60!

I turned 60 at the beginning of the year…but I am NOW considering what that means.  What have I done with my life?

My father had a heart attack at 60 and died from another heart attack at age 62.  Did he teach others how to succeed in sales?   Did he mentor others to take risks?  Did he coach others that needed a coach?  The answer: No…but I am not doing that either!

When I was in my early 20’s, I was confident I would my successful, but it would take some time. So I spent my 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s putting the plan in place that would help me accomplish my goals.  Now I am 60, and where am I?

I didn’t accomplish any of my life changing goals!

But I did achieve my annual goals; I dated a lot, I got married to my beautiful wife, I raised 2 great kids, I went on nice vacations, I have a great home.  But did I accomplish anything significant? Not really.   OK, now that I think about it, I have accomplished a lot!

I have lived each day as if it were my last and I feel blessed with every remaining day.  After my stroke, I am content with what I have and find joy with the things that other people have.  I can’t explain it, but I think that defines happiness!

I still have to practice!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am planning for my last speech of the year.

You know that I practice for a few weeks before giving EVERY speech.  Last Friday, I was absolutely amazing;  I has the audience (me) in tears!  I hit every slide, I paused in the right places; I really was fantastic.

Today, I thought “why do I need to practice again?  I given this same speech over 500 times.  Maybe I should stop.  I know, I will just give it one last time.”

So I did….and I was horrible. It was as if I was giving the speech for the first time.  I would say a few sentences, but then would be stuck to fine my place.  It was a real wake up call for me.  I really do have to practice this speech!  

It was so humbling to realize that I put EVERYTHING into speaking; I just don’t wing it. So, it is back to practicing!

 

Good News – Bad News

Posted by Steven Reinberg, HealthDay Reporter

While progress is being made in reducing the number of stroke deaths, it seems that more people who experience these brain attacks have significant stroke risk factors, a new study reveals.

The rates of high blood pressure, diabetes, abnormal cholesterol, smoking and drug abuse have all been on the rise in stroke patients over recent years, the study authors said.

The study included over 900,000 people hospitalized for stroke between 2004 and 2014. Each year, prevalence of high blood pressure went up by 1 percent, diabetes rose by 2 percent, high cholesterol went up by 7 percent, smoking increased by 5 percent, and drug abuse jumped 7 percent, the researchers found.

“The risk of dying from a stroke has declined significantly, while at the same time the risk factors are increasing,” said researcher Dr. Ralph Sacco. He’s a professor of neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

“We are not exactly sure why these increases are occurring,” Sacco said.

It’s possible that doctors are getting better at diagnosing risk factors. Or certain lifestyle factors may play a role, Sacco suggested. These include obesity, lack of exercise, poor diet and smoking.

The increase of drug abuse among younger patients is especially concerning, he added.

Although the increases in risk factors were seen in all racial and ethnic groups, increases in high blood pressure among blacks and diabetes among Hispanics stood out, Sacco noted.

He stressed that patients need to know their blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels. “There are great medications that can be used to treat those conditions,” Sacco said.

“We need to go further in controlling risk factors, like diet and exercise,” he advised.
According to Dr. Salman Azhar, director of stroke at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, “The challenge now is to prevent strokes, and if they have had a stroke, trying to prevent a second stroke. This is where the importance of these risk factors comes in.”

The responsibility to reduce risk factors lies with patients, but also with the community, he continued.

“It’s up to communities to provide access to better food and places to exercise. We have a responsibility as a community and a health system,” Azhar said.

The 922,000 people included in the study had been hospitalized for an ischemic stroke, which is caused by a blocked blood vessel in the brain. These are the most common types of stroke.

The number of stroke patients who had one or more risk factors increased from 88 percent in 2004 to 95 percent in 2014, the findings showed.

For hospitalized stroke patients during the 10-year study period, high cholesterol rates more than doubled, from 29 percent to 59 percent, and the rate of diabetes went from 31 percent to 38 percent.

In addition, high blood pressure rates increased from 73 percent to 84 percent, and the prevalence of drug abuse doubled from 1.4 percent to 2.8 percent. Also, kidney failure increased each year by 13 percent, and plaque buildup in the carotid (neck) arteries rose by 6 percent each year, the investigators found.

Dr. David Katz is director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center in Derby, Conn. He said the improvement in stroke survival “suggests we are relying on advances in treatment while neglecting prevention.”

Katz, who is also president of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, said, “Treating disease is never as good as preserving health and vitality. This study is a precautionary tale of the questionable and costly choices we seem to be making as a culture.”

The report was published online Oct. 11 in the journal Neurology.

Copyright © 2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

How Did I Do at University of Portland?

 

 

 

 

First thing: I spoke THREE times in one day; I have never done that before!  This was another milestone for me.

I love the University of Portland because I can deliver the same speech, varies ways, to test certain things out.  But THIS time, I delivered the SAME speech, the same way, to all three groups to see if there was any variation in the way certain people view my presentation.

You would think if I didn’t do anything different, all threes groups would behave the same way.   WRONG!  Each of the three groups behaved differently!

To me, I was blown away. How could three groups be so different?I gauge the groups by the laugh I get at the beginning.  If they don’t laugh, I know it will be a tough group.

All three group responded the same way to my questions before I ask before the speech.  I thought if I started with these questions, I would urge them to listen.

I worked up to my first laugh:

I was a young, healthy, active, non-smoking, non-drinking- mostly non- drinking – normal cholesterol man,….. just like this guy! (point, Laugh)

 

 

 

 

 

There were no laughs!   I looked at Jill, thinking I didn’t say my line write.  Nope…I said it correctly!  So I continued on, with maybe a chuckle  or two at a few points. Then at the end, they asked a bunch of questions!  Were they the same group that heard my talk?

Then I had the second group.  They REALLY loved the picture!  I had to wait before I could continue because they were laughing so much!  When the end came, they didn’t ask ANY questions…but they stated to thank me…and we had to give another book to someone who didn’t look like she was paying attention but she was actually moved by my talk!

The third group had a few chuckles.  They asked a few questions at the end.  You never know what kind of impact you will have on a group until the very end of the talk, when they are leaving the room.

It must be tough being a stand up comic!

Stroke at 30??

Stroke at 30-something: You Can Come Back.  The Right Attitude, Therapy and Caregiver Support is Vital to Successful Rehabilitation

Stroke survivor Jessica “Jess” McNair can joke about it now—one of the reasons, in fact, she is convinced that it’s her sense of humor that helped her recover from a series of strokes this year. At 32 years old, Jessica experienced what doctors described as “cascades of multiple strokes” resulting from irregularly formed arteries in her neck. The event left the San Rafael, Calif., resident unable to walk, talk or care for herself.  The prognosis was bleak and Jess’ team of doctors predicted she had a five percent chance of living.  Her road to recovery started with a grueling schedule of occupational, speech, and physical therapy.

“I had overwhelming amounts of denial from the very beginning,” said Jess describing her first reaction to the news given to her at the hospital. Although Jess was preparing to move to London and bartending to save money, she doesn’t see herself as a victim: “I consider myself strangely pessimistic in an optimistic way.”

This is where Jess’ older sister Kate comes in.

The Caregiver’s Life is Changed

No individual or family is ever prepared to fulfill the role of a full-time caregiver. Looking back, Kate recalls that both her and Jess were overwhelmed with emotion. “We were both crying, but immediately started joking,” says Kate who feels that maintaining a good sense of humor is a necessary coping skill for everyone – but especially for stroke survivors. “When I walked into the hospital I told her that there are other ways to get a day off – you don’t have to have a stroke!”

A fulltime sales professional, wife, and expectant mother at the time, Kate knew early on that she had to deal with the situation personally. The then 34 year-old recalls the vagueness of the doctors and nurses in answering her questions, which emphasized how important it was for her to take control of the situation. Shouldering the responsibility of work and the physical demands of pregnancy, Kate now had the added role of primary caregiver to her younger sister.

Thankfully, Kate was able to rely on her husband and friends who helped deal with insurance companies, meal preparation, and physical therapy.

“There was a lot of planning. We had to plan how to watch her. It was pretty scary and the frustrations were there,” Kate remembers.

When it came to working as a team, Kate recalls Jess’ determination, “She was really determined. We would make a diary and everyday have these little goals.” This helped support the efforts of her rehab.

A Great Rehab Team

For stroke survivors, rehabilitation options depend on the severity of their stroke, their level of disability, and the intensity of rehabilitation exercises they are able to endure. The goal of rehabilitation is to improve the survivor’s function so that they can regain independence and live life without relying on a caregiver.

Upon suffering a stroke and calling the ambulance herself, Jess was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at Marin General Hospital where she had two more big strokes. She was then accepted to the rehabilitation program at California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC)—Davies Campus while she still had a tracheotomy. At the time, Jess couldn’t speak or make a noise. Through their sisterly-bond, Kate was the only person who could read her lips and understand her. “I guess you could refer to me as a vegetable at that point—I was not moving at all,” Jess points out. This marked the beginning of her three-month stay at CPMC’s inpatient rehabilitation facility, before being transferred to their outpatient program.

“I had three amazing people working with me—I call them my heroes,” referring to her occupational, physical, and speech therapists with whom she remains friends to this day. During her recovery, the skilled professionals got her standing up and walking again with assistive technology such as the EksoGT™, a wearable exoskeleton that helped train her body to walk with a proper gait, and an electronic stimulation machine that enabled her to relearn vocalization.  With these devices, both Jess and Kate noticed improvement, providing Jess the much needed confidence and motivation to continue her therapy.

A Time for Independence

Jess is still in recovery and has been able to regain some of her independence with the help of Kate and her army of “heroes.” The sisters, who will be separated in the upcoming months due to Kate relocating to Minneapolis, feel that this experience has brought them closer and made their relationship stronger.

“Before, we were close – we saw each other on an everyday basis, but now our bond has been reinforced. Silly arguments don’t seem to matter anymore,” mentions Jess.“I love her—she’s one of my most favorite people on earth. I feel like I’m abandoning her, so I’m going to miss her a lot, but I am confident in her progression,” Kate adds.

Jess is maintaining her positive attitude and currently focusing on regaining enough independence to be able to make the move to London.

To encourage others on their own personal comeback journeys, Jess and Kate recently participated in a podcast. The podcast is available through Connected Social Media, Ekso Bionics and iTunes.

To learn more about the advanced exoskeleton technology Jess used during rehab, visit Ekso Bionics.