As I hear about stroke events in Toronto and elsewhere, I will make every attempt to attend them and report back to you. When we stroke thrivers get out of the loop we tend to lose touch with mainstream of stroke culture and collapse in on ourselves. It’s so important for maintenance of our good health to stay in that loop and keep current.

I will also read as much as I can about current stroke research and peer group events, and scan the web to obtain the latest information.

I can’t write at top speed with my left hand and occasionally drift off during a lecture (come on, admit it, who doesn’t), so I have purchased a small tape recorder, sit up front like a nerd, and tape the speaker (with permission).

Advocacy has become a very pressing issue in today’s complicated medical world. It’s a double-edged sword; too little and you may lose out on the best care; too much and you may lose out on perspective. One thing is certain; you must educate yourself about what is current in stroke prevention for the best secondary stroke prevention. Disinterest equals disaster.

Hospitals, indeed all areas of medicine, are severely under funded today and care facilitators simply cannot do everything for patients that they would like to in the limited hours that they have. It’s not humanly possible. So the onus, unfortunately, falls on the patients and their families. I was at a conference this year where general practitioners were complaining that they were exceedingly frustrated by the lack of information they received from the acute care doctors who saw their stroke patients in the hospital. They felt out of the loop.  I visited a neurologist who was literally sitting amongst towers of patient’s charts. And as an occupational health nurse, I have had countless nurses come to me overworked and depressed. They would complain that they rarely had a lunch break, and even found it difficult to find time to go to the bathroom. This trend is insidious in medicine and there is little we can do about it, especially in this day and age of budget shortfalls and overwhelming world-wide debt.

There is no pot of gold on the horizon, so what do we do as patients? Advocate. We have to be the squeaky wheel. We have to educate ourselves. We have to advocate for our well-being. This is tricky because reading about stroke on the internet does not come close to the knowledge of your professionals have who have studied for years and years. There is more to knowing about stroke than a brief peruse of the web can give you..

Take the current uproar about Multiple Sclerosis (MS) for example. Much of the public cannot understand why the Canadian medical community has not adopted the “Liberation Procedure” that has been much-touted in the press. One thinks perhaps:”Can’t they see that it works?” “Why isn’t the government funding trials? “ What the public doesn’t realize is that there are thousands of physicians out there who have done years of careful research on the subject, and they know that one just can’t perform an unproven procedure without careful long-term studies. And the government is briefed by the best of the best of research scientists.

Carotid stenting, or the opening and enlarging of the large vessels in the neck, is extremely dangerous and life-threatening, and not done cavalierly. Witness the recent deaths reported from blood clots after the surgery. Doctor’s aren’t being mean when they  withhold treatment, they are being safe. I work with MS patients every week; and as one doctor told me, having MS is like having a stroke, then 3 months later having another, and 6 months later having a third, and so on. It’s a terrible disease. No doctor worth their salt would want to put these patients through more grief,or conversely, withhold treatment that would work.. And yet the criticism and suspicion continues to rain down upon them.

 Michael Specter has written an excellent book on the 21st century phenomenon of Denialism. He talks about the growing trend for disenfranchised people to distrust science. It’s worth a read. How long, for example, have we heard a chorus of anger from suffering and grieving parents that childhood immunization has lead to autism, despite strong medical evidence to the contrary? In fact a misguided physician falsely convinced and terrorized an entire generation of parents in England that this is true, causing thousands of children to go without immunization. As a result children have died unnecessarily from preventable illness. Another outcome of this nonsense has been the resurgence of measles in England, a disease previously nearly wiped out. Herd immunity of this virulent virus is now threatened in the world, putting the lives of blameless children at risk. Of course now scientists are finding the genes responsible for autism and in time we may find out the real cause of the disease.

How does this relate to advocacy? It shows how as consumers,we must be careful when asking for the impossible. We can’t possibly know all the permutations involved in making a medical decisions. At the same time we need to know enough to prod the busy medical professionals when they forget and we fall through a crack. It is a horrible conundrum. How many of us have heard medical horror stories? I have a few of my own. We are forced to walk a tightrope and it’s not easy.

 One of the results of a recent research study work by the Toronto West Stroke Network into improving the care of stroke patients through the continuum of care, is that advocacy, along with peer support, is critical to recovery. I personally feel this is a key to excellent stroke care.
This blog is one method of providing peer support to stroke thrivers. Hopefully you too, as readers, will contribute your tips for thriving, so that we can all be advocates for one another.

We have to work together to promote change with perseverance, but always with calm, open minds, and respect. We don't want to incur responses on the other end of the spectrum, avoidance and apathy.

Risk factors of Stroke

Stroke Cloud

The following are excerpts were taken from Dr. Mark Baley’s lecture on the risk factors of stroke from an ongoing lecture series called Living Well with Stroke put on by the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute (TRI). Dr. Baley is the Medical Director of the Neuro Rehabilitation program at TRI and a specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation.

Brain Attack

Dr. Baley began the lecture by saying that the name of the disease, “stroke”, actually refers to the belief that people were stuck down by a stroke of God. Stroke is now often referred to as a ‘brain attack’ to give a more urgent connotation (as in heart attack).

Signs and Symptoms of Stroke

The Heart and stroke Foundation recently launched a campaign to improve public awareness of stroke. You may have seen the throbbing, zigzagging graphics of stroke symptoms on TV. I find the ad a little frightening myself.
Weakness- sudden weakness, numbness, or tingling in the face, arm or leg.

Trouble Speaking-sudden temporary loss of speech or trouble understanding speech.
Vision Problems- sudden loss of vision, particularly in one eye, or double vision.
Headache-Sudden severe and unusual headache.
Dizziness –sudden loss of balance, especially with any of the above signs.

During a stroke nerves are deprived of blood flow through one mechanism or another (see page “What is a Stroke”). The symptoms of stroke are dependant on where the blood vessels and nerves were that were injured. This also depends on which hemisphere of the brain is involved; the right, or visual-spatial side or the left; the logical, analytic side. This is also the side responsible for language in most people.

Weakness is probably due to lack of blood flow in the motor cortex. Most people have a dominant side which is evident by right or left handedness. Generally, but not always, stroke symptoms occur in the dominant side; thus if you are left-handed, you’ll have left-sided defects and right-handed, right-sided deficits. But the stroke actually occurs on the opposite side of the brain. This is because the nerves affecting dominance cross over at the top of the spine before they enter the brain. (author’s note: I am right-handed and have right-handed deficits, and as a consequence now use my left hand for everything. But I often call my left-side, my right now. My theory is that my brain, which normally sees my right side as dominant, is beginning to see my left side dominant and confuses the two.

Numbness is caused by decreased blood flow to the somato-sensory area.

Speech is caused by damage to the Broca’s area or speech area of the brain. Understanding of words is caused by damage to the Wernike’s area.

Visual difficulties arise from damage to the Occipital area.

And double vision, slurred speech or dizziness, balance and coordination problems stem from damage to the brainstem.

Ten years ago the traditional view was that a stroke occurred every 10 minutes in Canada.

Stroke was the third leading cause of death.

There were 15,000 deaths per year from stroke.

Stroke was the first cause of neurological disability.

There were 50,000 strokes per year in Canada.

And there are 300,000 stroke survivors.

The Changing Profile of Stroke

It is now known that TIA’s, or little strokes, can lead to some forms of mental illness, like changes in memory and mood.

 The trend of populations is to become older, fatter, more hypertensive (higher blood pressure), which suggests the incidence of stroke will rise.

And the incidence of stroke is rising, and over the last 10 years, it has become more prevalent then it was thought to be. It is now known that stroke can be clinically evident or symptomatic, in what we commonly think of as stroke; or it can be covert, when the signs of strike can be hidden. In fact the latter, or covert strokes, are more prevalent.

Small vessel disease may affect multiple organs leading to TIA’s and dementia, but also to kidney, heart and retinal failures.

White Matter Hyperintensities

It is also known that strokes, that at one time were thought to be caused by damage in the larger arteries, are now known to happen in the very small ones as well. This damage to the white matter of the brain causes tiny lesions called White Matter Hyperintensities (WMH).

The more detailed evidence of MRIs shows multiple small infarcts in the white matter that were previously considered normal. These smaller strokes may not produce symptoms but are now known to be associated with dementia, cognitive dysfunction, psychosis and depression. In fact it is thought that many cases of Alzheimer’s disease are in fact dementia from WMH. The extent of the small white matter hemorrhages on the original MRI predicts the progression of the disease.


Statistics show that as you age the arteries get narrower and narrower. These small covert strokes continue to happen even if you don’t have a larger stroke, and they occur 5-10 times the frequency of evident (larger) strokes. For every symptomatic stroke there are 9 silent strokes which may be occurring every minute or two across Canada as opposed to every 10 minutes as was thought before.

There is 20% chance of having a second stroke within 2 years of your initial stroke.

 The death rate from stroke is now 16,000 Canadians each year.

The price tag for the tax payer is now in the billions of dollars annually.

Risk Factors
 The risk factors for stroke are classed as modifiable ,non-modifiable and unknown.


.Cardiac Disease
.Sedentary Lifestyle
.High Alcohol Intake



*High levels of homocysteine in the blood degrade the structure of arteries and increase the incidence of thrombi.

*High levels of fibrinogen, a factor in the formation of blood clots, cause excess platelet aggregation and clot formation.

*Too many red blood cells in the blood which can lead to clotting.

Risk factors you can’t control * coutesy of TRI

Your chances of having a stroke go up as you get older. In fact, the risk of stroke doubles every 10 years after age 55. 2/3 of strokes occur among people over 65.

Men are slightly more at risk of having a stroke than women. Yet more woman die of stroke than men. This is largely because women tend to live longer than men.

Ethnic origin
Canadians of First Nations or South Asian descent tend to have a higher risk f stroke because they have higher rates of high blood pressure and diabetes.

Family History
If any of your immediate family members, that includes your parents, grandparents or siblings, had a stroke before they were 65, you have a higher risk of having a stroke.

Prior Stroke or TIA
If you have had a previous stroke or TIA, your risk is increased, in fact; stroke survivors have a 20% chance of having another stroke within 2 years.

Blood pressure

Many people are simply unaware that they have high blood pressure and that it can be a silent killer. It a myth that you will always have a headache to warn you that it is too high.

40% of Canadians do not know they have high blood pressure.
Dr. Baley suggested that adults would do well to invest in blood pressure monitors and be aware of their own blood pressure status.

Blood pressure monitors can be purchased at most drug stores and can be used with one hand.

There is a linear relation between blood pressure and stroke. Stoke risk increases as your blood pressure goes up. Many specialists now prefer to keep BP as low as tolerated with the high 120/80. Contrarily the 2010 recommendations from The Stroke Network suggest blood pressure should be no higher than 140/80. Once again we patients are confused but suffice it to say do everything you can to keep it low. Advocate for yourself with your doctor if he or she is not following current trends, or get a second opinion, and don’t stop your blood pressure medication unless symptoms like excessive dizziness warrant it and it's approved medically.Always check with your doctor before discontinuing any medication.


But prescriptions for anti-hypertensives have increased with rises in incidence of hypertension; in other words there still isn’t good control. Out of 100 people, only 16 have their blood pressure under good control.

  • 261% increase in the number of people aged 12-24 who have blood pressure problems!
  • 100% increase in the35-49 age group and it affects men and women equally.
  • 20% increase in obesity in people aged 12-24
  • 40% increase in men


Recognized  benefits of blood pressure lowering

  • 35-40% reduction in stroke
  • 20-25% reduction in myocardial infarction(heart attack)
  • 50% reduction in heart failure

There is a correlation between high blood pressure in mid-life and poor cognitive function in later life.


Conditions associated with brain small vessel disease

·        Frequency of blindness due to age related macular degeneration (ARMD) equals that of evident strokes.

·        Up to 50% of heart failure patients experience cognitive impairment -Pressler SJ,2008

·        51% of patients in renal failure have small strokes-Vermeer S, et al. Lancet Neurology. 2007; 6:611-19

·        62% of diabetics have small strokes-Vermeer S, et all. Lancet Neurology. 2007; 6:611-19

Atrial Fibrillation

If you have an irregular rhythm of the heart, then you are at a risk of strokes.(Author’s note-for more in-depth discussion of atrial fibrillation see the’ What is Stroke’ page)

It is important to consistently take medications as your doctor prescribed


It is also generally thought that reducing salt in your cooking can reduce high blood pressure but salt in processed food is very much higher.

 In fact 80% of the salt we eat comes from processed foods and we can’t get rid of it by putting away the salt shaker.

Top Source of Sodium
  • Pizza, sandwiches,submarines,hamburgers,hotdogs .19%
  • Soups                                                                                              .7.4%
  • Pasta                                                                                               .5.7%
  • Cheese,Milk, Cereals
  • Breads
  • Sauces
  • Pickles-2 dill pickles=daily salt intake of 2,500mg= 3 tsp

For more information on salt visit

Read Food Labels


The body needs insulin to break down sugar for energy. Diabetes develops when your body doesn’t produce enough insulin or does not effectively use the insulin it produces. Diabetics are at a higher risk of stroke than non-diabetics. If you are 40 or older, overweight, and have high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, or a family history of diabetes, you can use these tips to reduce its impact on the risk of stroke:

  1. Use your insulin(or oral drug) consistently
  2. Monitor your blood sugar and tell your doctor if you can’t keep it under control
  3. Become more physically active. Work with your doctor to design a fitness program.
  4. Eat a nutritious diet by following Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating.

Sleep Apnea

Researchers at Toronto Rehab have shown that obstructive sleep apnea is a condition that can cause low oxygen in the blood, high blood pressure and risk of strokes. If you snore or stop breathing at night, get checked!!!

Why Sleep Apnea Raises Blood Pressure

Sleep apnea is like being smothered by a pillow. When you are smothered you gasp for air: in sleep apnea the airway is blocked by your tongue, stopping breathing and like being smothered, you gasp. This causes the flight or fight reflex and adrenalin is released, which raises your pulse and blood pressure, and increases stickiness of platelets, increasing clotting.

What can you do to prevent a stroke?


Findings from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition-Potsdam Study

  • 23,153 German adults aged 35-65 yrs.

  • Healthy factors: Never smoking, BMI less than 30kg/meter squared, greater than 3.5 hours per week physical activity, healthy diet (high intake fruits and veggies, whole grain bread, and low meat consumption) 9% had all 4 factors

  • Reduction in risk in developing chronic disease if all factors.
-Chronic disease overall: 78%
-Diabetes: 93%
-Heart attack: 81%
- Stroke: 50%
- Cancer: 36%


·        Healthy lifestyle

·        Daily exercise 15-30 minutes

·        Management of hypertension
-Measure you and your family’s BP regularly
-Salt Management
-Medical treatment for high blood pressure

·        Atrial fibrillation
-Longer period for detection
- Dabigatran-new treatment

·        Immediate attention to TIA

·        Look out for sleep apnea

What to do if you have had a stroke or TIA

  • get investigated for cause-heart, neck arteries, sleep apnea, blood tests

  • Ischemic stroke

-Aspirin or other blood thinner
-Cholesterol lowering medication
-Blood pressure medication (ACE inhibitor and diuretic)
-Control your diabetes
-Treat any sleep apnea


What does it take to be a heart healthy nation?

Erica Di Ruggiero, MHSc, RD,PhD (c), Chair, Canadian Public Health Association has written a article on heart disease prevention in  April 8/2011 Special Supplement on Globe and Mail on Heart Health.  She states that heart disease has decreased by 70% since the 1959s but is still responsible for over 69,000 deaths per year and costs the Canadian economy more than $22.2 billion each year.

Despite this decrease and the public information campaigns to make lifestyle changes:
  • 4.9 million Canadians are regular smokers;
  • 10 million Canadians have high cholesterol
  • 4.1 million are obese

The most common individual risk factors for heart disease are smoking, unhealthy eating, and lack of exercise. I Ruggiero says for many, addressing these issues may be complicated:

Smoking- social, economical and emotional situations may make it a difficult habit to break.

Healthy Eating-Poorer Canadians sometimes have to opt for cheaper, lower quality food.

Physical Activity- gym memberships are expensive, parks may be unsafe, and for those working two jobs, there simply may not be enough time to exercise.

Di Ruggerio says that if Canada is to become a heart-healthy nation, we need to more than rely on individual solutions. We need the individual and collective will to put health health-promoting practices in place.

To read more on this topic see  Di Ruggerio’s presentation at the Institutes of Population and Public Health Building collaborative research infrastructures for population health research : Lessons learned from Canada @

New guidelines take aim on Atrial Fibrillation

*Article taken in its entirety from The Globe and Mail’s supplement on Friday April 8/20011- Heart Health

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a heart rhythm condition that affects about 5% of the population over 60 years of age and about 10% over age 80. Its symptoms include palpitations, shortness of breath, weakness or difficulty exercising, chest pain, dizziness or fainting, fatigue or confusion.

Depending on the severity of symptoms, AF can be debilitating or frightening, says Dr. Stanley Tung, an electrophysiology specialist at the atrial fibrillation clinic at St. Paul’s Hospital, Vancouver. “Untreated, it also increases the risk of heart failure by two to three times, and the risk of potentially deadly strokes by up to five times.”

After age 60, one –third of all strokes, including some of the most serious, are caused by atrial fibrillation.

Individuals with AF may experience shortness of breath and chest pain, and their exercise capacity may be diminished, says Dr. Tung. “It translates into issues such as time off work, hospitalization, and chronic anxiety about when it may strike.” He welcomes the new guidelines for atrial fibrillation care released this year by The Canadian Cardiovascular Society. “These guidelines globalize and elevate the quality of standardized care across the board.”

The guidelines were prepared by leading experts in atrial fibrillation treatment, he says, and provide guidance for family physicians and other health care providers on the highest standard of care. ”My expectation is that, as an overall population, there will be improvements in symptom management, which will translate into improved outcomes such as reduced incidence of stroke, fewer hospitalizations, less time of work and greater patient satisfaction.”

For the new atrial fibrillation guidelines, visit

Ethnic Factors Influence Susceptibility To Heart Health Risk

Canada-India Networking Initiative

About 13% of the 1.6 million served by Fraser Health in British Columbia, and more than 26% in some of its cities, are of South Asian descent- a population with higher incidence of cardiovascular disease than Canadians as a whole. “Some studies suggest the incidence among South Asians may be three or four times higher.” Says Dr. Arun K. Garg, Director of the Laboratory Medicine and Pathology Program at Fraser Health. “This increased prevalence exists in India and among South Asians around the world.”


South Asians are more likely to have high blood pressure and diabetes, making them more susceptible to heart disease and stroke, but the causes remain unclear, according to doctor Garg.”It’s likely multifactorial. Genetics may be playing a role, but there also may be environmental factors related to diet, exercise, and other lifestyle issues.”

Coronary heart disease is the most common cause of premature death among Canadian South Asians, and in North America, South Asians on average have heart attacks at an earlier age-as much as 10 years earlier than the general population.

Wikipedia South Asian Map of Languages

Uncertainty about the causes is not stopping Dr. Garg from taking actions to address the risk. Last year he and colleagues in India formed the Canada India Network Society (CINS) and agreed to explore solutions to this shared health challenge. At a June 2010 conference hosted by Fraser Health and Simon Fraser University, leading researchers and clinicians from both conferences developed recommendations for additional research, public awareness on healthy diet and lifestyle, and new treatment approaches.

“Health promotion and prevention are important,” says Dr. Garg.” However, once medical treatment is required, patients must be under the care of a physician,and follow medication regimes and other therapies prescribed by their doctor.”
It is important to note that standard medications that are available are not “one size fits all” when it comes to protecting patients. Factors such as a patient’s  genetic background can play a role in determining the most affective medication, highlighting the need for a customized treatment plan.

Dr. Garg’s colleagues at Fraser Health are rallying to the cause, says Dr. Gerald Simkus, program medical director, cardiac sciences. “We seek to reduce the risk among South Asians through ethnically sensitive targeted prevention programs,” says Dr. Simkus. ”This includes the best strategies for reaching people-for example, through schools, temples and community groups.”

As a part of recommendations from last year’s conference, Fraser Health is now developing a program for South Asian Health, to work with community organizations and primary health care providers on preventable programs tailored to this population, says Dr, Simkus. “We believe we have an opportunity to make a real impact and decrease heart disease among South Asians in our community.”

*Article taken in its entirety from The Globe and Mail’s supplement on Friday April 8/20011- Heart Health
 For more information about multicultural health initiatives visit

Your Brain’s Trash Bin

 By Michael Kesterton

The Globe and Mail Friday April 22, 2011

“Although memory loss is not a normal function of age, we often begin to forget things as we get older, Psych Central says.” New research suggests a reason may be that our brains are cluttered with irrelevant information. Using a computer analogy researchers believe we should defrag and empty our brains’ trash bins to improve cognitive performance. The study is found in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. …Researchers from Concordia University believe that older individuals have reduced learning and memory because their minds tend to be cluttered with irrelevant information when performing tasks.” Mervin Blair, lead author of the study, suggests methods to reduce mental clutter include performing stress reduction techniques and keeping the brain in shape with challenging activities such as learning a new language, playing an instrument, completing crossword puzzles, maintaining an active social life and exercising.

April 26/2011
New Website Offers Support to help ensure patient recovery

Your Heart :New Start” is a new website developed by pharmaceutical giant Lily in Partnership with the World Health Federation to help patients who have suffered a cardiovascular event learn the information that will help them prevent re-occurrence. Cardiac rehabilitation units like Toronto Rehabilitation Institute’s Cardiac Rehabilitation on Rumsey Road provide up-to-date cardiac rehab, but not all areas of the country have access to these kind of resources. “Your heart:New Start” aims to provide that information to people who don’t have the community resources. Visit

April 27/2011
Quote of the day as uttered by a wonderful lady in my peer support group, Laura Ferreira: "I hate that F word....frustration".

June 7/2011

The Globe and Mail has a wonderful series on “fall” prevention, a real problem among us strokies. Follow the story


“Spring into Action to Make Homes Safer For Seniors’
The Family Caregiver.Com

June 13/2011

See a fun new video on Stroke Prevention

June 14/2011

Study Shows Stroke Patients Can Improve Walking Ability

June 28, 2011

Treating sleep disorder improves stroke recovery, study finds,-.aspx 

Dr. Frank Silver: Many Women Unaware of Stroke warning signs – Especially Chinese and South Asian….

July 11/11

Quote: Crazy Pete (Character)
from Now and Then (1995)

"Things will happen in your life that you can't stop, but that's no reason to shut out the world. There's a purpose for the good and/or the bad."---"Crazy Pete" Sims (Walter Sparrow), Now and Then  

July 12/11

7 Tips for Stroke Prevention

Taken From The Huffington Post

July 13/11

Time magazine “The Number one Killer of Women”,9171,1004724,00.html

July 28/201

Tips for Home Modification and Making it Functional

Aug 4/2011

MedicAlert is going high tech


Big, Better, Best…. Comparing power wheelchair platforms.

Aug 18/2011

WHO-World Health Organization

A landmark census paints global picture of disabilities
Listen to the podcast:
Download full report:

Disability and Health Fact Sheet

Aug 23/2011

Obese South Asians face higher health risks:
New study finds this group is more likely to store fat in abdomen and organs, which can interfere with their function.

Sept 23/ 2011

Scientists say breakthrough in reconstructing people's sight lines could help stroke victims or those unable to communicate

Sept 30/11

Heart medicines work better when taken at bedtime:

“Canadian scientists found that drugs known as ACE inhibitors- used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure-are far more effective when taken before sleep”

Remember to always check with your physician before making any changes to your medical regime.

Oct 4/11
Shining a Light Inside the Brain

“Canadian researchers are using the new science of optogenics to probe and map the brain, unraveling the secrets of learning and memory and developing treatments for a variety of neurological conditions, from stroke to mental illness.”

 Neurons Firing

For more on optogenics see:

Oct 11

Study Is Ended as a Stent Fails to Stop Strokes

Oct 12

Golf changes the Brain

Oct 17

** 'Robo legs' for stroke patients **

Scientists in the Netherlands are using robotic legs to try to improve the movement of stroke patients.
Oct 18/2011

Risk seen in Antidepressant- Blood Thinner Mix


Oct 21, 2011

The art of rewiring a brain

Artist John Newman’s work post-stroke

Artist John Newman’s work pre-stroke

Oct 21, 2011

Nov 7 2011


Robyn Levy the author of Most of Me
Photo Kevin Van Paassen of the Globe and Mail

October 2011
ISBN 978-1-55365-632-6
5" x 8"
272 pages
Biography & Autobiography
$21.95 CAD

Nov 10/2011

As a Strokie, I find concentrating on a task particularly difficult (like writing this blog!) and I find I’m continually susceptible to distraction. Although Scott Scheper writes about working and studying in modern-day, many of his tips can be applied to the often frazzled post-stroke world.


How To Get Focused
Eight Things Everybody Ought to Know about Concentrating


A new book is available about Gabrielle Giffords, the congresswomen who was shot in the head last January, called Gabby: A Story of Courage And Hope.


Heart Disease and Stroke Worldwide Tied to National Income

This map shows the burden of disease from stroke and/or ischemic heart disease. (Credit: Image courtesy of UCSF)

"There was a striking association with national income," Kim said.
In the United States, for instance, heart disease is the number one killer and stroke the number four, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the WHO data, the same is true throughout the Middle East, most of North America, Australia and much of Western Europe.
In many developing countries, the opposite is true. Stroke claims more lives and is associated with greater disease burdens in China and throughout many parts of Africa, Asia and South America. In all, nearly 40 percent of all nations have a greater burden of stroke compared to heart disease.

Poor Countries Have Disproportionately Higher Burden of Disease from Stroke Than from Heart Disease

"Researchers and policy makers often think of stroke and heart disease together when designing cardiovascular disease prevention programs. But there may be important reasons to consider the two separately as well," Kim said.
For example, if a country has three times the disease burden from stroke than it does from heart disease, one could imagine a situation where a broad-based intervention to tackle cardiovascular disease more generally might not have as much impact as a program specifically targeting extremely high blood pressure, since this is a much more potent risk factor for stroke than for heart disease.
"Ultimately, the goal is to better understand the reasons behind these differences in order to develop interventions to address the specific issues in a particular country," Kim said.

Jan 2/2012

Philip’s Lifeline-for help if you fall.


Healthy Home Reno Tax Credit
The proposed Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit would be a new permanent, refundable Personal Income Tax credit to assist with the cost of permanent home modifications that improve accessibility or help a senior be more functional or mobile at home.

Jan 23/2012

Wirelessly enabling the long-distance house call-by Lisa Priest

Jan/ 27/ 2012-01-22

'Winter tire' boot aims to thwart icy falls

Jan 30/2012

Sole Support
The balance enhancing insert!

Thousands of pressure sensors on the soles of our feet provide information that help balance our body weight. As we age, we lose sole sensitivity. As our feet lose sensitivity our risk of falling increases. Sole Sensor enhances sensory perception on the soles of your feet, thus improving balance.

• Proven to help your balance
• Simple solution to insensitive feet
• Not recommended for diabetes sufferers
• May help to reduce falls
• Compact patented design to heighten foot sensation

Designed by Dr. Stephen Perry of Wilfrid Laurier University


 For information about where to buy Sole Supports:

Jan 31/2012

This quote may sound strange coming from a stroke survivor but it holds true for me, and by all accounts to many thrivers I’ve spoken with. You can have a wonderful life after a stroke.

Feb 3/2012

The Psychiatrist’s Fee Sounds Unfair – Can He Charge That?

Feb 6/2012

iDAPT launches...and so does a new era in rehabilitation science

Feb 8/2012

Who’s in Charge: Free Will and the Science of the Brain By Michael S. Gazzaniga- Review by David Wassielewski

Feb 16/ 2012

Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain

Feb 24/2012
New Research Offers Hope To Those Who Can’t Speak

Feb 27/2012

Smart-e-Pants Zap Away the Bedsores

March 1/2012

Study: Old flu drug speeds brain injury recovery

March 13/ 2012

A World’s First-Day Surgery For Aneurisms

March 14/2012
For the Good of the Gut: Can Parasitic Worms Treat Autoimmune Diseases?

Not really pertinent to stroke prevention (thus far) but interesting to see new and different scientific trends for treating associated diseases. Warning: it might make some people squeamish.

March 15/2012

Heart attack with no chest pain likelier in women, study says

March 16/2012

Is it possible to use more of our brain?

March 26/2012

Dirty Hospitals

To start your week off on a bright note watch CBC's marketplace on the state of  the cleanliness of our province's hospitals . It's a real eye-opener. And if you have to go to the hospital take some wipes , Infectious Disease specialist Dr. Michael Gardham does!


March 30/2012

Breakthrough Treatment for Blocked Arteries

Dr. Bradley Strauss

April 6/2012

The Power of the Lab in an Hour

Quick tests to determine the efficacy of medication when you most need it.

New Online Tool To Rate Hospitals in Canada so Popular it Crashes The First Day!

April 16,2012

Home Care Support for Elderly Fails Caregivers, Report Finds:

May 2/2012

Cyberdyne Robot Power Suit


May 15/2012

Important New Heart Health Treatments and The Surprising Way They Were Funded:

Drug-Eluting Stent

Renal Artery Denervation


May 16/2012
Paralysis patients move robot arms with their minds

May 24/2012

Remember the 1st Three Letters.....S. T. R.  


During a BBQ, a woman stumbled and took a little fall - she assured everyone that she was fine (they offered to call paramedics) ...she said she had just tripped over a brick because of her new shoes.

They got her cleaned up and got her a new plate of food. While she appeared a bit shaken up, Jane went about enjoying herself the rest of the evening.

Jane's husband called later telling everyone that his wife had been taken to the hospital - (at 6:00 PM Jane passed away.) She had suffered a stroke at the BBQ. Had they known how to identify the signs of a stroke, perhaps Jane would be with us today. Some don't die. They end up in a helpless, hopeless condition instead.

It only takes a minute to read this.

A neurologist says that if he can get to a stroke victim within 3 hours he can totally reverse the effects of a stroke...totally. He said the trick was getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed, and then getting the patient medically cared for within 3 hours, which is tough.


Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer severe brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke.

Now doctors say a  bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions:

S  *
Ask the individual to SMILE.

T  *
Ask the person to TALK and SPEAK A


(I.e. It is sunny out today.)

  *Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.

If he or she has trouble with ANY ONE of these tasks, call emergency numberimmediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

New Sign of a Stroke -------- Stick out Your Tongue

NOTE:  Another 'sign' of a stroke is this: Ask the person to 'stick' out his tongue. If the tongue is

'crooked', if it goes to one side or the other
 that is also an indication of a stroke.

A cardiologist says if everyone who gets this e-mail sends it to 10 people; you can bet that at least one life will be saved.  

June 4, 2012

Books on the Brain Worth Reading :

June 8/2012

Help Your Heart: Donate Blood

*** Please remember to ALWAYS discuss any procedure with your doctor before proceeding.

June 13/2012

Exciting new stroke research at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre:

June 18/2012

An easy hands- free way to manage your communications on your wrist.

July 24/2012

Help Your Heart: Donate Blood

*Remember to discuss blood donation with your doctor

Some Signs Of Aging Can Predict Heart Disease

                                          Dec 4/2012

Is adversity good for you? Why trauma may be just what you need.

Dec 10/2012

Need a New Doctor?

Dec. 19/2012

 "Amour" An Emotional Tale of Enduring Love

In 'Amour,' Michael Haneke explores the devastating effects of a wife's strokes on a marriage. Emmanuelle Riva's and Jean-Louis Trintignant's performances are a revelation,0,6553463.story

Jan 3/2013

A Language Unlocked

“Alun Morgan, 81, was evacuated to Wales during the Second World War but left 70 years ago,” reports The Daily Telegraph. “During his time there he was surrounded by Welsh speakers but never learned the language himself. … Morgan recently suffered a severe stroke, but when he regained consciousness three weeks later, doctors discovered he was speaking Welsh and could not remember any English. It is thought that the Welsh that Morgan heard as a boy had sunk in without him knowing and was unlocked after he suffered the stroke. … Doctors diagnosed Morgan with aphasia … which causes a shift in the brain’s language centre.” He is now trying to regain his fluency in English.

By Michael Kesterton
In The Globe and Mail

Jan 27/2013
You Only Live Twice

If Only: How Our Lives Not Lived Make The Lives we Do Live Richer

Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life [Hardcover]

Adam Phillips

April 4/2013

The Good New About "Bad" Genes

April 14/2013

Mackenzie Health has developed a Patient and Family Education portal for patients recovering from Stroke


April 14/2013

Sounds During Sleep Can Improve Memory

April 21/2013

More Seniors to Benefit from Physiotherapy and Exercise

New Ontario Government Expanding Access to Care for Seniors

June 11/2013

Stroke Recovery Misunderstood
Poll suggests many Canadians have an unrealistically bleak view of strokes and the ability to regain mental and physical function
July 16/2013

Holding Off Retirement Has Benefits