Thursday, January 19, 2012

Strokes Could Happen During Sleep!

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

While some stroke can be deadly, most of the strokes can probably be treated if victims act quickly. Clot-busting drugs are used to prevent permanent disability after a stroke. However, victims must receive the treatment within a 4-and-a-half-hour window after the stroke symptoms begin.

When a person has a stroke during sleep, he or she could not possibly know when stroke occurred. As such, they could not receive the treatment if he or she slept for more than 4 and a half hours.

A study conducted by researchers from the University of Cincinnati reported nearly 15 percent of people who had a stroke while they slept making them not eligible for clot-busting treatment. Their findings were published online on May 9, 2011 in the journal ‘Neurology’.

The researchers reviewed medical records from people who went to emergency rooms in Ohio and Kentucky in 2005 in order to investigate how many strokes occur during sleep, and whether they differ from strokes that begin while people are awake.

Among the identified 1,854 people who had suffered the most common kind of stroke, in which blood flow to the brain becomes blocked, 273 (almost 15 percent) said they woke up with symptoms.

There were no major differences between strokes that occurred while people were asleep and awake. But people who had wake-up strokes were slightly older and their strokes were somewhat more severe.

None of the patients who woke up with symptoms got the clot-busting drug known as tPA (tissue Plasminogen Activator). In fact, one third of these victims could have received the drugs if time had not been an issue. They also did not have any other reasons like high blood pressure or a recent surgery that would disqualify them from receiving tPA.

According to the researchers, doctors are reluctant to give iPA to stroke patients after the crucial time window because the treatment comes with a risk of bleeding in the brain. Meanwhile, research had not shown any benefits if it is given long after symptoms began.

Perhaps, scientists should find out how to estimate when wake-up strokes actually occurred so that doctors could determine those who wake up with stroke symptoms to receive iPA.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Why Pregnant Mother Should Not Smoke?

Tobacco smoking is bad for the health. It would lead to many chronic diseases including lung cancer, hypertension (high blood pressure), heart disease, stroke, erectile dysfunction and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

The harm often extends not only to the smokers themselves but also to others, especially the family members and friends. Studies have shown that people might develop similar diseases through secondhand smoke.

Smoking is no longer the privilege for men. Many women have picked up this habit as well.

Around 15 percent of women smoke while pregnant in many Western countries. What these female smokers do not know is that a wide range of childhood health problems, including behavioral and neurocognitive problems and sudden infant death had been linked to smoking during and after pregnancy.

A recent study by researchers from the University of Sydney found that pregnant mothers who smoke could cause changes to their unborn babies that can lead them to have lower high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. HDL is commonly referred to as ‘good cholesterol’ that plays a key role in protecting against atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis is a condition in which the artery wall thickens because of accumulation of fatty materials. It could cause heart problems and even heart attack.

Published on June 21, 2011 in the European Heart Journal, the Australian researchers reported that by the age of 8, children born to mothers who smoked in pregnancy had level of HDL cholesterol at around 1.3 millimoles per liter (mmol/L), which was lower than those born to mothers who had not smoked, with about 1.5 mmol/L.

The participants were 405 healthy 8-years-old children (born between 1997 and 1999) who had been enrolled before birth into a randomized controlled trial that was investigating asthma and allergic disease. Data were collected before and after they were born, including information on mothers' smoking habits before and after pregnancy, exposure to passive smoke, and data on height, weight, waist measurement and blood pressure.

Ultrasound scans were used to measure the arterial wall thickness and blood samples were taken from 328 children, who agreed, to measure lipoprotein levels. There was no effect on the thickness of the children's arterial walls, but it was found that there was an effect on levels of HDL cholesterol.

The findings suggested that smoking created an unhealthy set of characteristics on babies while they are developing in the womb, which might cause them prone to develop heart disease and stroke later on. The effect seemed to last for at least 8 years and the risk of getting heart disease for smokers’ children could be 10 to 15 percent higher.