Links for Keyword: Stroke

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By NICHOLAS BAKALAR The risk factors that predict stroke also predict mental impairment, a new study has found, even in people who have never had a stroke. Researchers studied a nationally representative sample of 23,752 mentally normal, stroke-free men and women whose average age was 64, using health questionnaires and an in-home physical and mental examination. They recorded seven risk factors for stroke: three types of heart abnormality, high blood pressure, the use of blood pressure medication, diabetes and smoking. Several of the authors have received payments from pharmaceutical companies. The report appears in Neurology. The volunteers were followed for an average of more than four years. After eliminating from consideration any who had had a stroke, the researchers found 1,907 who were cognitively impaired. After controlling for age, sex, race and education, researchers found that high blood pressure and left ventricular hypertrophy independently predicted cognitive impairment, and the more risk factors a person had, the greater the risk for mental problems. The lead author, Frederick W. Unverzagt, a professor of clinical psychology at the Indiana University School of Medicine, had this advice: “The early detection and treatment of high blood pressure is what we’re advocating for folks to preserve their cognitive health.” © 2011 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 16067 - Posted: 11.22.2011

Having a mini-stroke can reduce a person's life expectancy by up to 20 per cent, a new study suggests. In a mini-stroke — known in the medical world as a transient ischemic attack (TIA) — the blood flow to part of the brain is temporarily blocked or reduced. With a mini-stroke, the initial symptoms of blurred vision, numbness, sudden headache, and difficulty speaking or walking (similar to stroke symptoms) soon disappear. In a stroke, the brain incurs permanent damage because the blood flow stays blocked. Having a history of TIA has long been known as a risk factor for strokes. This new study suggests there are also serious impacts on life expectancy. Researchers identified more than 22,000 people hospitalized in Australia because of a mini-stroke between 2000 and 2007 and tracked their medical records for at least two years. Using death registry data from 2009, they then compared this population to those in the general population. Their findings were startling. For those patients who'd had a mini-stroke in 2000, their survival rate nine years later was 20 per cent lower than the population as a whole. Survival rates at the one-year and five year marks were also lower. A year after a mini-stroke, 91.5 per cent of the TIA patients were still alive, versus 95 per cent survival among the general population. Five years after a mini-stroke, 67.2 per cent of the TIA group was alive, compared to 77.4 per cent of the general population. © CBC 2011

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 16011 - Posted: 11.11.2011

By DENISE GRADY An operation that doctors hoped would prevent strokes in people with poor circulation to the brain does not work, researchers are reporting. A $20 million study, paid for by the government, was cut short when it became apparent that the surgery was not helping patients who had complete blockages in one of their two carotid arteries, which run up either side of the neck and feed 80 percent of the brain. The surgery was a bypass that connected a scalp artery to a deeper vessel to improve blood flow to the brain. The new study, published on Wednesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association, is the second in recent months to find that a costly treatment, one that doctors had high hopes for, did not prevent strokes. In September, researchers reported that stents being used to prop open blocked arteries deep in the brain were actually causing strokes. That study was also cut short. Both the stents and the bypass operation seemed to make sense medically, and doctors thought they should work. Their failure highlights the peril of assuming that an apparent improvement on a lab test or X-ray, like better blood flow or a wider artery, will translate into something that actually helps patients, warned an editorial that accompanied the new findings. Only rigorous studies can tell for sure. The editorial writer, Dr. Joseph P. Broderick, chairman of neurology at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, also cautioned that other stroke treatments were being used without sufficient study, particularly devices to remove clots. © 2011 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 16005 - Posted: 11.08.2011

By Bruce Bower Stroke survivors and other patients trying to relearn how to walk due to weakness on one side of the body may reap benefits from being forced to stumble and stagger. Healthy adults made to switch between a regular and an unusual walking pattern on a special treadmill relearned the strange stride much faster the next day than volunteers who had practiced only the unusual gait, neuroscientist Amy Bastian of the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore and her colleagues report in a study in the Oct. 19 Journal of Neuroscience. Not surprisingly, participants who learned and then unlearned an unusual walking pattern while adjusting to a new walking style took lots of clumsy steps when trying to relearn the original pattern, some reminiscent of Monty Python’s old skit about the Ministry of Silly Walks. Yet these individuals had the last laugh, because they learned how to correct awkward leg limps and body lurches that occur in the early stages of adapting to a new gait, the researchers propose. Practice at switching gaits helps people learn how to adjust for initial missteps when attempting an alternative walking style, Bastian says. She calls this process “learning to learn” from one’s mistakes, so that movements can be realigned quickly as needed. Gait-switching volunteers weren’t aware that they learned anything, but the next day they realized that it was easier to adopt the odd walking style. © Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2011

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry; Chapter 11: Motor Control and Plasticity
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain; Chapter 5: The Sensorimotor System
Link ID: 15927 - Posted: 10.22.2011

by Linda Geddes The life-saving treatment of therapeutic hypothermia is calling into question the guidelines doctors use to determine brain death IT'S a nightmarish scenario: a 55-year-old man, pronounced dead after a cardiac arrest, is minutes away from organ donation when he begins to show signs of life. "On being moved to the operating room table, the anaesthetist noticed that he was coughing," says neurologist Adam Webb of Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, who initially pronounced the man brain dead. It transpired that the man had also regained corneal reflexes and was breathing - both signs of a functioning brainstem. Although the man later died, his case has reignited a debate about whether clearer guidelines are needed to determine brain death (Critical Care Medicine, DOI: 10.1097/CCM.0b013e3182186687). At issue is a treatment called therapeutic hypothermia, which Webb's patient had. It involves cooling the body to about 33 °C to minimise damage to tissues and brain cells caused by oxygen deprivation after a cardiac arrest. Since the publication of two landmark papers in 2002 in The New England Journal of Medicine, increasing numbers of hospitals are using therapeutic hypothermia. It saves lives, but the technique muddies the waters when it comes to determining brain death. It is also making it harder to predict who is likely to recover from a coma. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 15898 - Posted: 10.11.2011

By Neil Bowdler Health reporter, BBC News Scientists in the Netherlands are using robotic legs to try to improve the movement of stroke patients. The prototype device is called the Lower-extremity Powered ExoSkeleton, or LOPES, and works by training the body and mind of a patient to recover a more natural step. The machine is also being tested on spinal injury patients who have recovered some restricted movement in their legs. It is hoped a commercial version could be made available to rehabilitation centres around the world as early as next year. Feedback mechanism LOPES has been developed by engineers at the University of Twente in Enschede in the Netherlands over several years. Designed for the rehabilitation clinic, it is not a mobile device but supports the patient as they walk on a treadmill. It can do all the walking for the patient, or it can offer targeted support in either one leg or with one element of the walking process. The machine can also detect what the patient is doing wrong. "For instance, some people cannot lift their foot up appropriately," explains Dr Edwin van Asseldonk, who is working on the project. "What this device does is it senses that the foot is not lifting properly. BBC © 2011

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 15834 - Posted: 09.24.2011

By Nathan Seppa Threading a catheter up into the brain and inserting a device that widens a dangerously narrowed artery might do more harm than good in some patients at risk of stroke. An aggressive course of medications alone appears to be safer, researchers report online September 7 in the New England Journal of Medicine. Mesh cylinders called stents have offered cardiologists an inside-out approach to opening clogged coronary arteries that is less invasive than surgery. Now researchers are using a new generation of tiny stents to tackle similarly narrowed vessels in the brain. Federal regulators approved a brain stent in 2005, and past studies have supported stents’ effectiveness against stroke (SN: 2/17/2007, p. 99). Researchers used the approved stent in the new trial. They enrolled hundreds of patients at 50 hospitals who had just survived a stroke or had a transient ischemic attack, a kind of stroke that clears up within a day, says study coauthor Marc Chimowitz, a neurologist at the Medical University of South Carolina. The average age of the patients was about 60. Brain scans of these patients pinpointed an artery with buildup that obstructed at least 70 percent of blood flow. People with such bottlenecks are at high risk of having a stroke, because a blood clot may form at the narrowed spot and block blood flow, or a loose clot might get lodged at the pinch point. All patients received clot-busting medicines — aspirin and clopidogrel (Plavix) — and were given drugs to lower cholesterol and control blood pressure. © Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2011

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 15780 - Posted: 09.08.2011

Tiny clots in the brain may be the cause of some signs of old age such as stooped posture and restricted movement, say US scientists. Researchers examining the brains of 418 deceased patients found damaged blood vessels in 29% of them which would not have been picked up by normal scans. They said higher levels of damage were linked to more limited movement. The researchers, writing in the journal Stroke, said declining mobility should not be accepted as normal ageing. Mild symptoms of Parkinson's disease - such as slow movement, rigidity, tremors and posture - increase with age and are thought to affect up to half of people by the age of 85. A team of scientists at the Rush University Medical Center, in Chicago, carried out autopsies on the brains of nuns and priests who were taking part in the Religious Order Study. The brains were examined under a microscope for signs of damage which would be invisible to normal brain scans. They found 29% of patients with no previously detected sign of stroke had clotted or narrowed blood vessels. BBC © 2011

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 15756 - Posted: 09.03.2011

By Pallab Ghosh Science correspondent, BBC News The world's first clinical trial of brain stem cells to treat strokes is set to move to its next phase. An independent assessment of the first three patients to have had stem cells injected into their brain at Glasgow's Southern General Hospital has concluded it has had no adverse effect. The assessment paves the way for the therapy to be tested on more patients to find a new treatment for stroke. The hope is that the stem cells will help to repair damaged brain tissue. The trial is being led by Prof Keith Muir of Glasgow University. He told BBC News that he was pleased with the results so far. "We need to be assured of safety before we can progress to trying to test the effects of this therapy. Because this is the first time this type of cell therapy has been used in humans, it's vitally important that we determine that it's safe to proceed - so at the present time we have the clearance to proceed to the next higher dose of cells." An elderly man was the first person in the world to receive this treatment last year. Since then it has been tried out on two more patients. The patients have received very low doses of stem cells in trials designed to test the safety of the procedure. BBC © 2011

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 15754 - Posted: 09.01.2011

By LISA TUCKER I was in a neurologist’s office to discuss the results of my brain scan. For the past month and a half, I’d had headaches that felt as if my skull was underwater, punctuated by frequent electric jolts through the right side of my brain. Two CT scans and an M.R.I. had revealed nothing. All the drug treatments tried by my doctor had failed to change me back into myself. But the new test, magnetic resonance angiography, had uncovered something. “You have a cerebral aneurysm,” the neurologist announced. “It’s small. You’ll have to see a neurosurgeon, but it probably won’t require surgery.” He handed me a card for a specialist at a stroke and vascular center. I took the card, though I was focused on the headaches. At least we had a cause for them now, I thought — until he explained that my aneurysm was an “incidental finding.” “It has nothing to do with the pain you’ve been experiencing,” said the neurologist. He offered me another drug. Multiple Google searches later, I understood what he meant. Most experts think that small aneurysms do not cause any symptoms unless they are about to rupture. Even more surprising, given the fear the word “aneurysm” strikes in patients with new diagnoses and their families, is that many small unruptured aneurysms are not treated. © 2011 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 15705 - Posted: 08.23.2011

By PAM BELLUCK People in a large area of the American South have long been known to have more strokes and to be more likely to die from them than people living elsewhere in the country. Now, a large national study suggests the so-called stroke belt may have another troubling health distinction. Researchers have found that Southerners there also are more likely to experience a decline in cognitive ability over several years — specifically, problems with memory and orientation. The differences to date in the continuing study are not large: Of nearly 24,000 participants, 1,090 in eight stroke-belt states showed signs of cognitive decline after four years, compared with 847 people in 40 other states. But the geographic difference persisted even after the researchers adjusted for factors — like age, sex, race and education — that might influence the result. The most recent data from the study were published in Annals of Neurology. None of the people with cognitive decline in the study had had detectable strokes. But some experts believe their memory problems and other mental issues could be related to the same underlying risk factors, including lifestyle patterns that contribute to hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity. Is it the fried food beloved by Southerners? Limited access to doctors? Too little exercise? Researchers are investigating those and other possible causes. Some experts also suggest that the participants could have had small, undetectable strokes that subtly affected brain function. © 2011 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry; Chapter 17: Learning and Memory
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 15528 - Posted: 07.05.2011

by Tim Wogan Atherosclerosis, the buildup of fatty deposits on the walls of major arteries, can kill without warning. The disease causes few symptoms in its early stages, so sufferers are often hit with a heart attack or stroke before they realize anything is wrong. Now researchers have devised a way to spot the deposits before they cause serious harm by using a combination of infrared light and ultrasound. To detect atherosclerosis early, doctors need to spot fat inside artery walls. They can glean some information by bombarding soft tissue (anything that's not bone) with infrared radiation from a laser, which passes through the tissue until it hits a specific chemical bond, causing it to vibrate like a spring. Different chemical bonds absorb infrared radiation of different wavelengths, so the radiation absorbed by a tissue sample can give doctors some clue to what's inside it. But to diagnose atherosclerosis, doctors not only need to know that tissue contains fat but also need to see that it's on the inside of an artery wall. In the new study, researchers took advantage of the fact that infrared-induced vibration of chemical bonds is swiftly damped by surrounding tissue; the energy is converted to heat. This leads to rapid expansion of the tissue, which sends a pressure wave traveling outward in all directions to the surface of the sample, where it is emitted as ultrasound. By using a series of detectors to pick up the ultrasound, the team realized that it could work out where the expansion took place—a technique called photoacoustic imaging. © 2010 American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry; Chapter 2: Functional Neuroanatomy: The Nervous System and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain; Chapter 2: Cells and Structures: The Anatomy of the Nervous System
Link ID: 15467 - Posted: 06.21.2011

About every 40 seconds, someone in the United States suffers a stroke, and more than 77 percent are first events. Although deaths due to strokes have declined, a stroke — caused by the sudden loss of blood flow to the brain or by bleeding in or around the brain, either of which can cause brain cells to die — can still have a staggering impact upon lives. New guidelines from the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association offer updated advice for preventing a first stroke. Lower your blood pressure High blood pressure damages arteries so they clog or burst more easily, escalating the risks of both types of stroke: ischemic, caused by blockage of a blood vessel that supplies part of the brain; and hemorrhagic, the less common but deadlier stroke that occurs when a blood vessel bursts inside the brain. Treatment to lower blood pressure, including lifestyle changes and medication, can reduce those risks by a third. l  Recommendations: Have your blood pressure checked at least once every two years, more often if you’re 50 or older. If your reading is high-normal — above 120/80 mmHg but below 140/90, the cutoff for hypertension — try to lower it by adopting the lifestyle measures listed below. If your reading is 140/90 or higher, talk with your doctor about adding an antihypertensive drug. Improve cholesterol levels LDL (bad) cholesterol, a fatty substance in the blood, builds up plaque on artery walls, causing arteries to narrow. If plaque ruptures, a blood clot can form and block a blood vessel to the brain, causing a stroke.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 15403 - Posted: 06.07.2011

Analysis by Marianne English Karen Butler woke up from dental surgery with an accent from a faraway place. After the anesthesia wore off, the Indiana-native-turned-Oregon-resident was perplexed to hear her American English suddenly shift to a hodgepodge of British, Irish and European pronunciations, according to a National Public Radio piece. Considering her speech change temporary, Butler's doctor suggested it would go away after the swelling in her mouth reduced. But the accent stayed well after she recovered. Doctors hypothesize Butler experienced a small stroke while under anesthesia, resulting in her developing foreign accent syndrome (FAS), a neurological disorder that alters the intonation and pitch of a person's speech. To listeners, people with FAS sound like non-natives producing another culture's take on a given language. But evidence suggests the ears of others might make new pronunciations seem more foreign than they really are. In essence, a woman with FAS who seems to speak English in a Scottish accent is unlikely to sound so to linguists. It's also false to assume someone with FAS suddenly knows a foreign language, as the condition has nothing to do with acquiring new languages, but rather modifying existing ones. © 2011 Discovery Communications, LLC

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 15395 - Posted: 06.04.2011

By ABIGAIL ZUGER, M.D. On a fall afternoon in 1988, Jon Sarkin, a 35-year-old Massachusetts chiropractor, was happily playing the eighth hole on a local golf course when he felt something “twist” in his brain. Three days later he began to hear a high-pitched screech, a siren that only grew louder with the passing weeks. Doctors shrugged; a brain scan suggested a vague abnormality near a nerve at the base of the brain that controls hearing and balance. Eight months later, driven to distraction by the unceasing noise, Dr. Sarkin underwent a controversial operation to “decompress” the small vessels surrounding the nerve. The day after surgery — having woken up long enough to report that the noise had indeed stopped — he was rushed back to the operating room with a major stroke. He didn’t survive, not really, but he did live and slowly came to thrive, and on that tangled paradox Amy Ellis Nutt builds a tale. Ms. Nutt, a staff writer for The Star-Ledger in Newark, won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing for her detailed account of a shipwreck off the Jersey Shore. Now she has turned to a medical shipwreck in the person of Dr. Sarkin, whose story is both Hollywood-simple (Tom Cruise has, in fact, expressed interest) and dauntingly complex. The Jon Sarkin who emerged from the hospital months after his stroke bore little resemblance to his prior self. He was physically delicate and walked with a cane, but that was the least of it. His personality had morphed into a difficult teenager’s: self-centered, unreliable, obsessive. Bored, he began to doodle one day shortly after he returned home. Two decades later he is still doodling, but now as a full-fledged artist of some renown, having sold small drawings to publications like The New York Times Magazine and large pieces to private collectors for thousands of dollars. © 2011 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 15383 - Posted: 05.31.2011

By JAMIE STENGLE DALLAS — Women who enjoy a daily dose of coffee may like this perk: It might lower their risk of stroke. Women in a Swedish study who drank at least a cup of coffee everyday had a 22 to 25 percent lower risk of stroke, compared to those who drank less coffee or none at all. "Coffee drinkers should rejoice," said Dr. Sharonne N. Hayes, a cardiologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. "Coffee is often made out to be potentially bad for your heart. There really hasn't been any study that convincingly said coffee is bad." "If you are drinking coffee now, you may be doing some good and you are likely not doing harm," she added. But Hayes and other doctors say the study shouldn't send non-coffee drinkers running to their local coffee shop. The study doesn't prove that coffee lowers stroke risk, only that coffee drinkers tend to have a lower stroke risk. "These sorts of epidemiological studies are compelling but they don't prove cause," said Dr. David S. Seres, director of medical nutrition at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York. The findings were published online Thursday in the American Heart Association journal Stroke. Copyright 2011 The Associated Press

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 15096 - Posted: 03.11.2011

By Tina Hesman Saey A naturally occurring genetic variant may predict who will do well after a stroke and who won’t. People who have two copies of a particular version of the Tp53 gene have a poor prognosis after stroke and brain hemorrhages, researchers in Spain report online February 28 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine. The difference between the two versions of the gene amounts to one small change: swapping proline out for arginine as the 72nd link in a chain of amino acids that make up a protein called p53. The arginine-containing variant of p53 had previously been shown to help protect against cancer by increasing apoptosis, a cell suicide program that gets rid of damaged cells before they can turn nasty. Brain cells can also undergo apoptosis after a stroke, but there it’s a bad thing, leading to more widespread damage. Angeles Almeida, a molecular biologist at the University Hospital of Salamanca, and her colleagues wanted to know if the variant works as vigorously in the brain as in cancer cells, so they tested nerve cells that make either the arginine variant or the proline version. “We saw that the difference was huge,” Almeida says. Cells with the arginine version of p53 had four times greater capacity to undergo apoptosis than cells with the proline variant did. And that molecular difference carries over into consequences for the whole brain. The researchers tested the DNA of stroke and brain hemorrhage victims to see if the version of p53 the people carried could affect their prognosis. The variant did not affect the chance of having a stroke or brain hemorrhage, but did correlate with how well patients had recovered three months after the brain injuries, the team found. © Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2011

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 15063 - Posted: 03.03.2011

High levels of cholesterol do not predict the risk of stroke in women, according to researchers in Denmark. They did detect an increased risk in men, but only when cholesterol was at almost twice the average level. The report in Annals of Neurology recommends using a different type of fat in the blood, non-fasting triglycerides, to measure the risk. The Stroke Association said triglyceride tests needed to become routine to reduce the risk of stroke. A total of 150,000 people have a stroke in the UK each year. Most are ischemic strokes, in which a clot in an artery disrupts the brain's blood supply. The research followed 13,951 men and women, who took part in the Copenhagen City Heart Study. During the 33-year study, 837 men and 837 women had strokes. They reported that the cholesterol levels in women were not associated with stroke, while there was only an association in men with levels higher than 9mmol/litre. The average in UK men is 5.5. BBC © MMXI

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry; Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain; Chapter 9: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Link ID: 15032 - Posted: 02.21.2011

By MARC E. AGRONIN, M.D. The woman described the sensation as a delicate flicker, like a moth trapped in a small gauze bag. She ran her slender fingers repeatedly over the spot in her slightly distended abdomen and said, “Doctor, right here.” Sometimes, she told me, the flicker gave way to a more forceful kick that rippled beneath her hand and then spread like a warm tide over her body. She felt contented and soothed as she imagined the baby growing inside. I was tempted to smile, but I kept still. An actual pregnancy would have been international news: the woman was 83 years old, recovering from a hip fracture and pneumonia. But her delusion was not unique. Indeed, our nursing home was having something of a baby boom. Just the day before, another woman who had recently suffered a stroke insisted that she had given birth to twin boys, who were now crying in the adjacent nursery. I reminded her that she was 90, but my words were no match for the force of her belief. She looked at me blankly and called again for her babies. Her husband, distraught, begged me to consider some pharmacologic remedy. But I was struck not by any mental suffering on the woman’s part, but by the opposite. In the face of terrible losses and confusion, her mind had found refuge in imaginary children. Their coos and cries brought comfort and hope. © 2011 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry; Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain; Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness
Link ID: 15006 - Posted: 02.15.2011

Young and middle-aged Americans are experiencing a sharp rise in hospitalization for strokes, says a new study echoing Canadian research that this age group is at greater risk for heart disease than they were in the past. The U.S. numbers, reported Wednesday at an American Stroke Association conference in California, come from the first large U.S. -wide study of stroke hospitalizations broken down by age. Government researchers compared figures in 1994 and 1995 with those in 2006 and 2007. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention number show the sharpest increase - 51 per cent - was among men under the age of 35. Strokes rose among women in this age group, too, but not as fast -17 per cent. The Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation's 2010 annual report describes a similar problem in this country. It showed that between 1994 and 2005, rates of high blood pressure among Canadians in general skyrocketed by 77 per cent, while diabetes rose by 45 per cent and obesity by 18 per cent. It also said that more than 250,000 Canadians in their 20s and 30s had high blood pressure, making them the newest at-risk group. High blood pressure, diabetes and obesity increase a person's likelihood of suffering a stroke. The problem was worst among those aged 35 to 49. The prevalence of high blood pressure in that age group increased 127 per cent, diabetes by 64 per cent and obesity by 20 per cent. © CBC 2011

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry; Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain; Chapter 9: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Link ID: 14982 - Posted: 02.10.2011