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May 7, 2011

How to tell if you are having a stroke

Filed under: Health — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 9:08 am

In this morning’s news, I read an article here about stoke patients who call a family member or a friend, instead of calling 911, when they are having symptoms of a stroke.  According to the article, three out of four people don’t call 911.  I didn’t call 911 either when I was having a stoke.  Instead, I awakened a family member who lives with me and he rushed me to the hospital which is only a short distance from my home.  He parked illegally in the ambulance parking space and accompanied me inside, where we went past the waiting room and barged into the office of the nurse who decides who gets treatment first. As a result of having fast treatment, I have recovered completely.

I am writing about this in order to help someone else who might not know how to recognize the signs of a stroke.  You may have seen the ads on TV where a comedian tells people “If your arm is numb, use your good arm to dial 911.”  Should you dial 911 every time your arm goes numb?  Should you conclude that you are not having a stroke if your arm is not numb?  In my case, my arm was not numb and I was not feeling dizzy, which is another symptom that the comedian mentions.


February 17, 2011

Does everyone need an “aspirin regimen”?

Filed under: Health — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 8:00 am

After I was hospitalized for a stoke last year, I was given prescriptions for blood pressure medication, statin drugs and coated baby aspirin.  I was told that this combination of medications was for prevention of future strokes, for which I had a high risk.

At the hospital, I was told that I had suffered a CVA which means Cerebral Vascular Accident.  I took great comfort in the term CVA because to me “stroke” is a bad word; calling it an “Accident” means that the patient is not to blame.  At no time did the doctors and nurses at the hospital blame me for what had happened; it was an accident that could have happened to anyone.  (Actually, I knew that I was to blame because I had been eating a lot of salty potato chips with sour cream dip and not exercising as much as I should have.)

A couple of days later, I went to a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) doctor and asked for an acupuncture treatment to repair the damage caused by the stroke.  The first question he asked me was “Are you taking blood thinner medication?”  Actually, I had asked the Western doctors in the hospital for a blood thinner, but I was told that baby aspirin was all I needed. After over six months on an “aspirin regimen,” I learned that aspirin might do more harm than good and that aspirin can raise blood pressure.

My TCM Chinese doctor explained to me that blood thinner medication is bad because your blood needs to clot in case you have a stroke that is caused by bursting a blood vessel in your head.

The doctors at the hospital didn’t bother to tell me that there are two kinds of strokes.  I learned that from my Chinese doctor.  One kind of stroke is caused by a blood clot blocking the flow of blood in part of the brain. This is called an ischemic stoke. Another kind of stroke is called a hemorrhagic stroke; this is caused by bleeding from a burst blood vessel in the brain or on the surface of the brain. If you have a hemorrhagic stroke, you want your blood to clot as fast as possible before you have some serious damage to the brain.

If you have an ischemic stroke, as I did, an aspirin regimen may help prevent a second ischemic stroke, but aspirin will not prevent hemorrhagic strokes. In fact, aspirin use slightly increases the risk of hemorrhagic stroke.  My stroke was caused by a blood pressure spike; my blood pressure went up to 205/100 and this caused a piece of plaque in my carotid artery to shoot up into my brain.  At the hospital I was given medication to dissolve the clot; I was told when I was released that my carotid artery was now clear.

If you watch TV, you know that aspirin is highly advertised to prevent heart attacks and stroke.  But I have learned that a person who has weak kidneys should not do an “aspirin regimen.”  Blood pressure is controlled by the kidneys and weak kidneys can cause high blood pressure; aspirin can raise your blood pressure.

I keep a bottle of regular aspirin handy so that I can chew an aspirin in case of a heart attack, but after I stopped the “aspirin regimen,” I finally got my blood pressure under control.

My Chinese doctor even warned me not to eat too much garlic because garlic thins the blood.  I had been eating as many as 15 cloves of garlic a day in an effort to lower blood pressure.  Now I limit my garlic consumption to 3 cloves per day.

January 28, 2011

How do you know when your kidneys are failing?

Filed under: Health, TV shows — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 6:57 am

A few nights ago, I was watching an old episode of the TV show “House” when the patient suddenly started having “rapid heart rate.”  The doctors, who were gathered around his bed, immediately started trying to bring down his heart rate by using some drug which they mentioned, but I didn’t catch the name of it.  Then I heard one of the doctors say that “rapid heart rate” was an indication of failing kidneys.   (more…)

September 24, 2010

Your life span is determined by your kidneys … and the kidneys are the first organs to fail

Filed under: Health — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 8:16 am

Yesterday I went to my Chinese doctor for another acupuncture treatment and this time, I asked him some questions.  Like, what causes “dry mouth”?  Ten weeks ago, I had a stroke, and for a couple of weeks before the stroke, I was experiencing “dry mouth” at night.  At the hospital, tests showed that I had high blood sugar, as well as high cholesterol and sky-high blood pressure.  I was a walking time bomb.     (more…)

August 10, 2010

I tossed out my statin meds….and I feel Great!

Filed under: Health — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 12:43 pm

After I had a mild stroke about 3 weeks ago, I was given a prescription for a statin drug. There are several brands of statin drugs including atorvastatin (Lipitor), rosuvastatin (Crestor) and simvastatin (Zocor).   The label on my pills said simvastatin, but not the brand name Zocor. Two days ago I stopped taking these pills because I suspected that the pills were making me feel worse.  What really alarmed me was that I was having difficulty swallowing my own saliva, but only at night.  The directions on my pill bottle said to take the statin pills in the evening.  I think now that the doctors want you to take these pills in the evening in hopes that you won’t notice the side effects because you will be asleep.  (more…)