Approximately every 40 seconds someone in the United States has a stroke and roughly every four minutes someone dies of a stroke. It causes about one in 20 deaths annually – making it the fifth-leading cause of death – and the primary reason for long-term disability. Moreover, Alabama has the second-highest stroke mortality rate in the United States, behind Mississippi, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This high incidence of stroke has earned Alabama a spot in the stroke belt, dubbed so by the medical community.
Observed annually on the fourth Tuesday in March, Diabetes Alert Day is a wake-up call to inform the American public about the seriousness of diabetes – an illness that affects millions of Americans of all ages, particularly when diabetes is left undiagnosed or untreated. This year, Diabetes Alert Day falls on March 24, and it’s especially imperative that the people of Alabama take note considering our state has among the highest prevalence of diabetes in the United States.
The effects of a stroke are unique to each patient and everyone’s path to recovery will look different. However, there are inherent truths to stroke treatment that should guide clinical decisions on the best care for patients.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a common problem affecting nearly one-third of the adult population. The long-term health effects of untreated OSA are beginning to become established and are frightening: increased risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, dementia, pulmonary hypertension.
Arrhythmias are abnormal heart rhythms that are often under recognized cardiac problems and can lead to dangerous consequences if ignored or not treated appropriately. Typical symptoms can mimic those of other cardiac conditions like a heart attack, and often include palpitations (abnormal sensation in the chest, feeling like your heart is racing or beating abnormal). Sometimes symptoms may be associated with chest discomfort, shortness of breath at rest or with exertion, dizziness, near passing out or passing out, and/or fatigue.
As the temperatures spike this summer, the risk of heat-related injury such as heat stroke and heat exhaustion also rise. While the temperatures are hard to avoid, there are ways to recognize symptoms and prevent heat-injury. People who tend to be more at risk are young children and infants, people over the age of 65 and those who are overweight or have a preexisting illness. It is important to note that some medications can also make you more sensitive to sun exposure and heat.
The Apple Watch and other wearables are now able to monitor your heart rhythm. The Apple watch can detect irregular heart rhythms, and if it does so five times, it will prompt you to record your rhythm. In that way, it can also be used to diagnose atrial fibrillation.
Atrial fibrillation (AFIB), a condition in which the heart fires so rapidly that the upper chambers quiver instead of beating in a normal rhythmic pattern, is the now most common arrhythmia condition worldwide and is recognized as a global health problem with its burden of morbidity and mortality resulting from embolic stroke. AFIB is expected to double by 2030.
Peripheral arterial disease, or PAD, is a disease process in which plaque buildup causes the arteries to narrow, resulting in reduced blood flow to the limbs. This can lead to a variety of medical emergencies: Claudication, stroke, uncontrolled hypertension, and possibly amputation.
How often do you walk into a room and completely forget why you went into the room? Or do you struggle with remembering someone’s name a few seconds after they introduce themselves to you? It seems that these “senior moments” occur more frequently as we all get older. As a clinical neuropsychologist, I am often asked if this is normal aging or if it is a sign of a bigger problem such as Alzheimer’s disease. The field of neuropsychology is uniquely skilled to answer this very question. Clinical neuropsychology is a sub-field of psychology which examines the relationship between the brain and behavior. It uses neuroscience, neuroanatomy, cognitive psychology, cognitive science and clinical psychology to understand the structure and function of the brain in relation to behavior and the information processing aspects of the mind. Neuropsychologists help to assess, diagnosis and treat individuals with neurological, medical, developmental or psychiatric conditions across the lifespan. Neuropsychological testing can aid in understanding how different areas of the brain are working. Neuropsychologists use various standardized tests to objectively examine a person’s strengths and weaknesses in all areas of thinking or cognition. Tests may be paper-and-pencil, answering questions, computer-based or task oriented. Areas of cognitive impairment or deficit can be identified and placed within the context of the individual’s medical and psychological history in order to determine what condition may be impacting a person’s functioning and thinking.
Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is the most common abnormal heart rhythm which can cause adverse clinical outcomes such as stroke and heart failure. An estimated 2.7 to 6.1 million people have AF in the United States. As the prevalence of AF increases with increasing age, with an aging population, prevalence of AF is expected to double in the next 2-3 decades. People above the age of 40 years have a 1 in 4 chance of developing AF in their lifetime. Patients with AF are 6-7 times more likely than general population to suffer from a stroke.
One of the greatest challenges facing the healthcare industry isn’t a political issue, it’s a geographic issue. What if I told you that approximately 50 million Americans (17 percent of the total population of the US) have limited access to high quality healthcare because they live in rural communities? Rural healthcare has a unique set of challenges including not only geographic but also economic and lifestyle factors.
Those of us who live in the South are pretty familiar with hot weather, but as we get into the dog days of summer, the heat can become excessive and oppressive. All the normal rules for heat and sun safety apply, but as temperatures soar, you may need to take more extreme measures to stay cool and safe.
More than 10 million people in the United States are affected by Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD). About one in every twenty Americans over the age of 50 has PAD. Smokers are four times more likely to develop the condition. Peripheral Artery Disease is a strong indicator for potential heart attack and stroke. Most people are aware of coronary artery disease but few know the symptoms of vascular disease. The most common symptom of PAD in the lower extremities is a painful muscle cramping in the hips, thighs and calves when walking or exercising. Other symptoms to be aware of are leg numbness, skin discoloration of the legs or toes & loss of hair on the lower legs.
Are you sleeping well? One in three Americans suffer from sleep-related issues. If you or someone you know suffers from a sleep disorder, there has never been a better time to find a solution. Lack of good sleep can be detrimental to one’s quality of life in many aspects. Untreated sleep disorders make it difficult to control other health conditions such as migraines, anxiety, depression, pain, and more. Poor sleep due to a disorder such as sleep apnea can also have negative effects on your social life, as you are too tired to participate in social activities. People who snore could also interrupt the sleep of their bed-partners! Finally, sleep issues can lead to poor concentration, job performance, and lack of productivity.
Almost everyone has seen the ads for the new anticoagulants at this point. However, many Americans still remain in the dark regarding what atrial fibrillation (Afib) is and it’s potentially devastating consequences. Despite increasing efforts to improve the awareness for atrial fibrillation, many still do not know it’s signs and symptoms or that it is a progressive disease. Afib is the most common arrhythmia in the world affecting 3-6 million Americans with projections of up to 16 million by the year 2050.
Peripheral artery disease is a widespread and vastly underdiagnosed disease, affecting nearly 12 million Americans, mostly those over the age of 50, though the incidence increases with age. The most common symptom of peripheral arterial disease is claudication, which is pain, fatigue or aching in the legs when someone attempts to walk. This is due to the poor blood flow to the muscles in the legs. Beyond simply the discomfort in the legs, we know that having peripheral vascular disease makes one much more likely to have poor cardiovascular outcomes. Among patients with symptomatic peripheral arterial disease, more than 10% will have a stroke, heart attack, or die from a cardiovascular cause within two years. And when we look longer term, the statistics are even more sobering. For patients with symptomatic peripheral arterial disease, their mortality rate is 25% at 5 years and 50% at 10 years. When looking at patients with critical limb ischemia (those who have pain at rest or wounds on their feet), the numbers are even worse: they have a mortality rate of 50% at 5 years and 90% at 10 years.
Noncompliance (non-adherence) to medical recommendations can have a significant impact on a patient’s overall health quality, resulting in decreased opportunities for prevention, delayed diagnosis, and incomplete or ineffective treatment. There may also be significant liability and financial risks to a responsible healthcare professional treating this patient, particularly as patient outcomes increasingly become connected to quality indicators and reimbursement.
Just because you’re getting older doesn’t mean that it’s too late to get in shape. In fact, research shows that older people who have never exercised can still benefit from physical conditioning. By starting a regular exercise program, you can help prevent coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, depression and some cancer. Physical fitness reduces the effects of osteoporosis and arthritis — two conditions which can severely limit an older person’s lifestyle. Being in good shape physically can help you remain independent as you age and improve the quality of your life.
Most people are aware that atherosclerosis can cause blockages in the coronary arteries, resulting in chest pain or heart attack, or in the carotid arteries, precipitating a stroke. But atherosclerosis can lead to another serious but often under-diagnosed condition: peripheral arterial disease (PAD). Defined as atherosclerotic obstruction of the arteries to the lower extremities, PAD causes leg pain and is associated with other cardiovascular disease. Although lower extremity PAD affects an estimated 12 to 20 million people in the United States, only four to five million of them are experiencing symptoms.
Bang, bang, bang! If you experience your heart banging against your chest or skipping beats you may be experiencing an arrhythmia. An arrhythmia is an irregular rate or rhythm of the heartbeat, where your heart can beat too fast or slow. Most commonly, this is caused by atrial fibrillation (AFib), when disorganized electrical signals cause the heart’s chambers not to beat in sync or fibrillate. Millions of Americans are affected by this disease and the number increases each year. AFib is the most common abnormal heart rhythm in America.
Birmingham Heart Clinic physicians are now utilizing a new approach to reduce atrial fibrillation stroke risk and eliminate the need for blood thinners over time.
As pediatric medicine becomes more specialized, the demand for specialists grows. One need look no further than the Division of Pediatric Neurology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) for evidence of this trend.
A common diagnosis patients present at HealthSouth Lakeshore Rehabilitation Hospital is stroke. One of the many deficits a stroke patient may incur is aphasia, a speech and language disorder that causes difficulty using or comprehending words during listening, speaking, reading and writing. Although symptoms may vary from patient to patient, the difficulties and frustrations people with aphasia and their families encounter are consistent.
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