Strokes are the fourth-leading cause of death and the leading cause of serious disability in the United States. Even so, the majority of people know very little about these debilitating events—and fewer realize they might just be at risk.
“Half of all Americans have at least one main symptom that can lead to stroke; they have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, or they smoke,” said Amanda Conn, a registered nurse and coordinator for the Stroke Center at Memorial Medical Center. “When you consider complexities like diabetes, heart disease or obesity, we’re literally walking time bombs.”
To help diffuse more than a few ticking bombs, Conn and other medical experts have busted the most common stroke myths—and these facts could save your life. Read the rest of this entry »
Some 6 million people in the United States have unruptured brain aneurysms, according to The Brain Aneurysm Foundation.
That’s about one in 50 people. And every 18 minutes, one of those aneurysms ruptures.
An aneurysm happens when an artery that supplies blood to the brain weakens and bulges. When one of these arterial bulges bursts, doctors refer to it as an aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage. The rupture spills blood into the subarachnoid spaces of the brain and causes a hemorrhagic stroke.
Without quick intervention, brain damage or death may be imminent, depending on how severe the hemorrhage, or blood loss, is.
Most brain aneurysms, however, don’t rupture, create health problems or cause any symptoms. They’re often only discovered when you’re being treated for an unrelated condition. An unruptured aneurysm may simply require observation. In some cases, treatment may be recommended to avert a future rupture.
How an aneurysm is treated depends on its size, location and shape, explained Augusto Elias, MD, a neurointerventional radiologist with Clinical Radiologists, S.C., who leads the neurointerventional team in Memorial Medical Center’s Stroke Center. Read the rest of this entry »
Roughly one in five Americans struggle with tinnitus – typically described as a constant or intermittent ringing sound that people hear in one or both ears. It’s a problem that strikes our nation’s veterans particularly hard, according to the American Tinnitus Association.
“Tinnitus is a growing problem for America’s military personnel,” the association says on its website.
“It threatens their futures with potential long-term sleep disruption, changes in cognitive ability, stress in relationships and employability challenges. These changes can be a blow to a vet’s self-worth.”
Exposure to high levels of noise is one of the leading triggers of tinnitus, which could explain why many veterans struggle with it. But they’re not alone. Prolonged exposure to loud noise can damage the tiny sensory hair cells in your ear that send sound to your brain, according to the Mayo Clinic. That puts factory and construction workers, firefighters and musicians among the other high-risk groups. Read the rest of this entry »
Epistaxis, more routinely referred to as a nosebleed, is a common complaint and has been reported to occur in up to 60 percent of the general population according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. They are rarely life threatening. In fact, most nosebleeds are typically harmless, self-limiting, and spontaneous, but some can be recurrent.
Nosebleeds are divided into two categories, depending on whether the bleeding is coming from the front or back of the nose.
Anterior nosebleeds originate toward the front of the nose and cause blood to flow out through the nostrils. These types of nosebleeds are common in dry climates or during the winter months when dry, heated indoor air dehydrates the nasal membranes and are not usually serious.
Posterior nosebleeds originate toward the back of the nose, near the throat. Posterior nosebleeds are less common than anterior nosebleeds, but they can be serious and can cause a lot of blood loss.
You should seek emergency medical care if your nosebleed: Read the rest of this entry »
While May has become known as Stroke Awareness Month, the importance of stroke awareness doesn’t end when the month is over. A stroke, sometimes called a brain attack, occurs when a blockage stops the flow of blood into the brain or when a blood vessel in or around the brain bursts. Strokes can affect people of all ages and backgrounds, not just adults over the age of 65. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly a quarter of all strokes occur in people younger than the age of 65.
This Stroke Awareness Infographic provides some important stroke facts. For more information on stroke facts and treatmenttvisit Memorial Medical Center’s Stroke Center. Read the rest of this entry »
At age 26, Darah Nelson is far younger than the average stroke patient. Yet on Oct. 18, 2012, she found herself in her office, the door closed, and unable to move or speak. A family friend, who had once experienced a stroke, happened to stop by, opened her door and quickly recognized the signs of a stroke.
Darah arrived via ambulance to Memorial Medical Center, where the Emergency Department team launched its Star 45 program, the 45-minute diagnostic timeline that determines whether patients, like Darah, are candidates for stroke treatment.
The video below chronicles her story. Read the rest of this entry »
Karla Dirks enjoying the company of her family
Karla Dirks was looking forward to a great road trip to St. Louis with her sister, but it ended with an injury followed by more bad news.
While attending a Cardinals’ playoff game in 2011, Karla fell and hit the back of her head on a concrete step while returning to her seat following the seventh-inning stretch.
A follow-up CT scan revealed a brain tumor – news that left her scared and surprised since she hadn’t experienced any symptoms to hint that something was wrong. The tumor was a meningioma, which grows from the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. Somewhat easing her concerns, she learned that these tumors were slow growing and often not malignant.
Her doctor referred her to Brian Russell, MD, a Springfield Clinic neurosurgeon, who explained that she had three options: brain surgery followed by two to three months off work to recuperate; do nothing and keep an eye on the tumor; or an outpatient procedure called stereotactic radiosurgery that would not require an incision. Read the rest of this entry »
Paige Ballinger is glad to be feeling good.
Paige Ballinger had always been in good health. She had never been in the hospital for anything major in her nearly 50 years. What the Springfield woman didn’t know was that ever since birth she had the equivalent of a time bomb in her head waiting to go off.A set of cells, which normally would be associated with the respiratory tract, had formed and gotten closed off in the space with the brain and the brain stem. And they stayed there quietly for decades before ever causing a problem.The trouble started on a Thursday morning when she woke up with a stiff neck. At first, Paige thought she had slept on it the wrong way. But when she moved her neck, “it just shot a pain up near my head,”she said.
“It was definitely a 10.”
Read the rest of this entry »
The first pipeline stent procedure, which offers an alternative to open brain surgery for patients with large aneurysms, in the region was performed in December at Memorial Medical Center.
Augusto Elias, DDS, MD, a neurointerventional radiologist with Clinical Radiologists, S.C., who leads the neurointerventional team in Memorial Medical Center’s Stroke Center, performed the minimally invasive procedure, known as a pipeline stent. Dr. Elias is one of only 10 physicians in Illinois who is trained to perform this procedure. Read the rest of this entry »
Memorial Medical Center’s Neurointerventional Radiology Suite
When a loved one suffers from a stroke, you know every second counts. The work of a neurointerventional radiologist could save time and lessen the chances of permanent brain damage.
Neurointerventional radiology uses minimally invasive technologies – microcatheters, balloons and stents – to diagnose and treat strokes as well as aneurysms, blood clots and tumors.
The most common type of stroke, known as an ischemic stroke, occurs because a blood clot becomes lodged in a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain. This is the type of stroke that U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois suffered in January.
One way to treat these strokes is through the use of a clot-busting drug. But this drug takes time to be effective. The larger the clot, the longer the time for the drug to take effect. Read the rest of this entry »