‘Sobering Facts’ About Women and Stroke

sarah-song-mdBy Sarah Song, MD, MPH

Did you know that there are more women affected by stroke than men? Presently in the U.S., there are 3.8 million female stroke survivors, compared to 3 million male stroke survivors. Though stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in men, it is the third leading cause of death in women.

As our population ages, this divide between the genders will increase, with even more women having strokes than men. Not only that, but women are — for a variety of reasons — more likely to recover poorly from stroke, more likely to be in an institutional setting post-stroke, and more likely to be widowed and isolated after stroke.

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Dolores’ Story: Treatment for a Brain Aneurysm

When Dolores Castillo learned she had an aneurysm in her carotid artery, she knew she had to do something about it. Soon.

She was referred to Demetrius Lopez, MD, a neuroendovascular surgeon at Rush.

“I felt totally comfortable with him, I liked his bedside manner, and ultimately he was the doctor that I chose,” she says. “He spent a lot of time with me and explained the procedure.”

Under the care of Lopes and the neuroendovascular team at Rush, she underwent a cerebral stenting procedure to prevent the aneurysm from rupturing.

“I think when you mention brain surgery, it sounds like a serious surgery, and it was,” she says. “But I’m doing everything that I did normally. I’m active, I do yoga, I run, and my recovery was a lot shorter than expected.”

As for her experience at Rush: “I felt like I was in a boutique hotel, and I was in downtown Chicago. It was really that good.”

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Stroke Heroes

Lynne Braun, PhD, CNP

Lynne Braun, PhD, CNP

By Lynne Braun, PhD, CNP

May is American Stroke Month, and volunteers from the American Heart/American Stroke Association gathered at the state capital to recognize Sen. Heather Steans, Rep. Robyn Gabel, and former Rep. Bob Biggins for their work to improve outcomes for stroke patients over the last five years. Stroke is the nation’s No. 4 killer and the No. 1 cause of severe disability.

Five years ago, Sen. Steans and Rep. Biggins, a stroke survivor, championed the groundbreaking Illinois Primary Stroke Center law of 2009. Since that time, 39 hospitals have been designated as Primary Stroke Centers, and five hospitals have been designated as Emergent Stroke Ready Hospitals, with many more waiting approval. These specifically designated stroke hospitals offer higher levels of stroke care, with strict national and/or state certification processes. EMS providers are directed to take stroke patients directly to these designated stroke centers, bypassing hospitals less able to provide high quality stroke care.

Sen. Steans and Rep. Gabel took the next step by introducing House Bill 5742, legislation that will keep stroke care moving in Illinois. This crucial legislation will allow Illinois to take full advantage of advances in technology, techniques, and standards of stroke care which have been developed since 2009, including:

  • Allowing the Illinois Department of Public Health to designate Comprehensive Stroke Centers, the highest level of stroke care available;
  • Align Emergent Stroke Ready Hospitals with National Acute Stroke Ready standards;
  • Facilitate the creation of an Illinois stroke data registry, a critical tool for continuing quality improvement.

In a press conference on May 22, as chair of the Illinois Advocacy Committee, I had the privilege of presenting Sen. Steans, Rep. Biggins and Rep. Gabel with Stroke Hero Awards. Shortly thereafter, I witnessed the almost unanimous approval of HB 5742 in the Senate. The bill now awaits the governor’s signature.

The Stroke Program at Rush has met the highest level certification standards by the American Stroke Association and the Joint Commission as a Comprehensive Stroke Center. Recently, Rush was awarded the Gold Plus Performance Achievement by the American Stroke Association.

Bill’s Story: Cerebral Angioplasty After a Stroke

Bill Metcalf’s stroke came, like so many, “out of nowhere.”

“I had no symptoms for it, it was not on my general practitioner’s watch list, and fortunately I came out of it OK,” he says.

But over the next year, Metcalf experienced disorientation and a sense that “something wasn’t right.” Upon meeting with neurosurgeon Demetrius Lopes, MD, he opted to undergo a cerebral angioplasty to treat a narrowed artery in his brain.

“My family’s had way more experience with this hospital than any family should … and then I come in and do a cerebral angioplasty.”

“It’s like I think we’ve tested every department here, and without fail, Rush has always been 100 percent tops.”

Physician Honored For Dedication, Compassion

JamesYoung2James A. Young, MD, has been praised by patients and colleagues for the dedication, compassion and hope he brings to the care of his patients.

In recognition of his efforts on behalf of patients with disabling brain injuries, Young received the 2013 Eugene J-MA Thonar, PhD, Award, which each year honors someone who has helped further the Medical Center’s commitment to providing opportunities for people with disabilities.

Young’s work at Rush goes beyond his official duties as chairperson of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. He volunteers weekly with the Rush Neurological Family Information Group, which he founded in 2002. This group of volunteer health professionals provides information and guidance to the family members of brain injury patients at Rush.

“It is an educational group,” Young explains. “Families of brain injury patients are lost, they’re overwhelmed. We help them to ask the right questions and guide them on where to turn for assistance.”

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Teen Collects Stuffed Animals for Pediatric Patients

TeddyBearCollection-CaleyAndDollsBefore Caley Trepac came to Rush University Medical Center last November to undergo brain surgery, a friend gave her a teddy bear. Trepac, who was 14 at the time, held the stuffed animal close throughout her weeklong stay at Rush. “It comforted me and made me feel loved,” she told a Chicago Tribune reporter.

While walking the halls of the pediatric intensive care unit during her recovery, Trepac saw children who also had serious medical conditions but who didn’t have their own doll to comfort them. As the first anniversary of her successful surgery on Nov. 5 approached, Trepac decided that she wanted to mark the occasion by collecting teddy bears and donating them to Rush to distribute to pediatric patients.

She succeeded beyond her wildest dreams. Earlier this month, the Plainfield resident and her family delivered more than 750 stuffed animals to Rush.

“I reached out to friends on Facebook, and word spread like crazy,” says Trepac’s mother, Wendy Frydrych-Trepac. Local businesses, the Plainfield Public Library, and even members of a rival high school volleyball team collected stuffed animals, and the family received financial donations to purchase additional dolls from as far as Massachusetts.

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Roy Bakay, MD, 1949-2013

Roy Bakay, MDRush University Provost Thomas Deutsch, MD, and Department of Neurosurgery Chairperson Richard Byrne, MD, shared the following note with Rush staff members earlier today:

It is with great sadness that we inform you that Roy A.E. Bakay, MD, the A. Watson Armour III and Sarah Armour Presidential Professor, passed away on Sept. 5 after a long battle with stomach cancer.

A neurosurgeon, Roy was a leading authority on Parkinson’s disease and specialized in surgery for movement disorders. He was instrumental in developing new applications of stereotactic surgery for Parkinson’s tremors. His research focused on neural tissue transplantation and gene therapy techniques that spanned a career over 40 years.

Roy received numerous awards and honors, including the AMA Physician Recognition Award, the Philip Gildenberg Award and the Molly and Bernard Sanberg Memorial Award. After graduation from Northwestern University Medical School, he began his career in academic medicine, writing four books, 56 chapters, more than 153 journal articles and 314 other publications.

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