Top 5 Takeaways on Stroke

Dr. Eric Adelman's Mini Med School presentation focuses on stroke prevention and treatment

mini_med_school_cardiovascular_graphic stroke BlogLeading U-M Frankel CVC researchers and physicians are advancing knowledge, finding new treatments and applying new technologies. Each week one of them shared his or her expertise in a six-week Mini Med School community education program focused on cardiovascular topics.

Here are the Top 5 Takeaways from Dr. Eric Adelman’s Mini Med School presentation on Stroke Prevention and Treatment:

1. Know the signs of stroke

Brain damage can begin within minutes of experiencing a stroke, so it’s important to know the signs of stroke and to seek immediate treatment by calling 911. Rapid treatment can significantly improve your outcome.

Common stroke symptoms experienced by both men and women include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, particularly on one side of the body.
  • Sudden trouble speaking or understanding.
  • Sudden trouble walking or difficulty with balance or coordination or dizziness.
  • Sudden difficulty seeing or double vision.
  • Sudden severe headache without a clear cause.

FAST (Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 911) is an easy way to remember the sudden signs of a stroke. When you spot the signs, call 911 for help.

2. Maintain a healthy blood pressure

Half of all strokes are attributed to high blood pressure. If individuals with high blood pressure can drop the top number of their blood pressure reading by 10 points, they can reduce their risk of stroke by 25 to 30 percent. Most people need medication to lower their blood pressure, but lifestyle factors can also play a role. Don’t smoke, get regular exercise, eat a healthy diet (e.g., Mediterranean diet) and try to avoid added salt.

3. Afib is a risk factor

Individuals with atrial fibrillation (Afib) have an increased risk of stroke, so it’s important to take your medication (warfarin or other anti-coagulant) on a regular basis to help reduce your risk of stroke.

4. Prevention is key

It’s much easier to prevent a stroke than to treat one, so be proactive if you have certain risk factors. For example, if you have diabetes, take the necessary steps to control it. Make sure your cholesterol is well-managed. And keep your blood pressure under control.

5. New device to treat stroke

A new type of device known as a stent retriever has shown tremendous promise in treating stroke patients. Stents, similar to the ones used to open clogged heart arteries, are being used to clear a blood clot in the brain, reducing the amount of disability after a stroke. The stent is temporarily inserted via catheter through the groin to flatten the clot and trap it, and is then removed with the clot. The stent retriever procedure is used for patients with severe strokes.

Take the next step:


Adelman_eric150x150Dr. Eric Adelman is assistant professor of neurology at the University of Michigan and co-director of the U-M Comprehensive Stroke Center. He received his medical degree from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

 

 

 

Frankel-informal-vertical-sigThe University of Michigan Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center is a top-ranked heart and heart surgery program among Michigan hospitals. To learn more, visit our website at umcvc.org. The U-M Stroke Program is accredited as a Comprehensive Stroke Center by the Joint Commission and participates in the American Stroke Association “Get With The Guidelines®” Quality Initiative.

Wrapping up heart month: Three women share their joy, straight from the heart

A look back at how three U-M patients are doing today

As we near the end of Heart Month, here’s a look back at some of the patients who shared their U-M experiences with us in 2014. All three have a story to tell about the joy in their hearts, thanks in part to the doctors at the University of Michigan.

Baby Ethan is thriving

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Baby Ethan, with brother Emiliano, is thriving.

Last May, a special team joined hundreds of U-M employees on the campus of Eastern Michigan University for the American Heart Association’s 2014 Washtenaw County Heart Walk/5K Run. This effort to help fight heart disease and stroke was particularly meaningful for the team named  “Ethan’s Emissaries.”

The 26-member group was walking in honor of an unborn child who had been diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a rare condition in which the left ventricle of the heart is severely underdeveloped. Ethan was born May 22, just 12 days after the walk in his honor.

Today, according to his mother, Betty Esquivel, a medical assistant in U-M’s bone marrow transplant clinic, he is thriving. As expected, Ethan has faced several operations, including surgery four days after birth for a heart shunt and again five months later to remove the shunt, which he had outgrown.

Betty says Ethan requires extra precautions to keep him from getting a cold or virus, which could affect his heart. Otherwise, he’s doing even better than U-M doctors originally thought. “He’s gaining weight and isn’t too far behind in his development,” Betty says proudly.

Betty, her husband Andres and their two-year-old son Emiliano have welcomed Ethan into the family with open arms, thankful for the joy this special child has brought to their lives.

Read more about Ethan’s story. Continue reading

Atrial fibrillation patient Jason Henning is riding strong

Catheter ablation results in increased endurance

jason blogThere was a time in Jason Henning’s life when riding a bike might have been a challenge due to atrial fibrillation. Today, he’s sharing stories of last summer’s 700-mile bike riding season across Michigan, Florida and Missouri. And he’s making plans for the upcoming 2015 riding season — which includes his fourth Pedal Across Lower Michigan (PALM) ride — confident he’ll be faster and stronger this year.

That’s because Jason recently underwent a catheter ablation at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center. He’s hoping the results will show close to 100 improvement in his A-fib condition. Ablation is a minimally invasive, catheter-based procedure performed on an outpatient basis to treat atrial fibrillation. Continue reading

Beyond the sticker shock of Warfarin alternatives

Analysis shows costs savings without frequent blood draws and fewer complications

Pills spillDoctors who are worried about the risk of stroke among their patients with the abnormal heart rhythm atrial fibrillation often look to anticoagulants for help – medicines that prevent dangerous blood clots, but can cost a lot.

Cardiovascular specialists at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center looked at the cost of dabigatran (Pradaxa) which is part of the new class of anticoagulants. They are simpler to use and less risky than Warfarin.

Medicare will spend an average of $75,496 to cover the cost of dabigatran for a 65-year-old with Medicare Part D coverage, compared to Warfarin’s cost of about $61,586. Research by the University of Michigan presented at this week’s American Heart Association scientific sessions reveals that in spite of the price tag, the new medicines can be cost-effective.

Continue reading

Atrial fibrillation triggers

Afib can be difficult to diagnose because of varying symptoms

99146355 450x320Atrial fibrillation, also known as Afib, is an irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia) that starts in the atria, or the upper chambers of the heart. According to the American Heart Association, an estimated 2.7 million Americans are living with Afib.

Although many atrial fibrillation triggers are common, each person’s experience is unique. So, being aware of your condition, along with your ability to identify the triggers that can potentially cause an episode, are important in helping you control atrial fibrillation symptoms, which may include:

  • Fluttering, racing or pounding of the heart
  • Dizzy or lightheaded feeling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Chest discomfort

Continue reading

U-M atrial fibrillation patient is back in the spotlight

The University of Michigan CVC team has extensive experience in treating patients with atrial fibrillation (Afib), an abnormal type of heart rhythm, for conditions that range from simple to complex. Treatment plans are tailored to each patient’s individual needs, with the goal of helping patients realize an improved quality of life.

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Joann Drayton credits Dr. Hakan Oral with helping her get back to the stage.

Sixty-five-year-old Joann Drayton was accustomed to the spotlight for much of her life. An established opera singer and a choreographer for full-scale productions at Jackson Community College, she was active and involved in the things she loved to do. But when diagnosed with Afib some 15 years ago, Joann’s health began to deteriorate to the point where she felt she just couldn’t function anymore. All that changed when she was introduced to Dr. Hakan Oral, who helped her rediscover the spotlight.

Joann shares her story …

“Dr. Oral is a brilliant doctor who gave me my life back. I suffered from Afib and atrial flutter and also had a history of stroke — conditions that I began experiencing around age 50. Through the years, I was put on as many as eight medications, which eventually left me unable to do the things I loved doing. It was difficult for me to walk up the stairs, let alone perform on stage and manage choreography for the theater group at Jackson Community College. Continue reading