Stroke Newsletter Spring 2013
Article Index
Stroke Newsletter Spring 2013
7 tips for heart-healthy eating away from home
The following is only for older people
Ability of brain to protect itself from damage revealed
Ways to dodge incontinence
7 ways to keep stress and blood pressure down
5 ways exercise helps men and women
4 ways to keep moving with joint pain
For men over 50: Take control of your health
All Pages





7 tips for heart-healthy eating away from home

Heart-healthy eating is easier to do in your own kitchen — where you have full control over the menu, ingredients, and how you prepare the meal — than it is when someone else is doing the cooking. But with these seven tips, you can stay well within your eating plan, even when dining out.

  1. Curb portions. For two people, consider ordering one salad, one appetizer, and one entrée — that will nearly always provide enough food for both of you. When ordering individual meals, set aside some of what is on your plate to bring home for lunch or another dinner.
  2. Resist refined carbohydrates. Just as you would at home, go for whole grains and limit white bread, white rice, and other highly processed starches. If the breadbasket is hard to resist, ask your waitperson to remove it from the table.
  3. Make smart, colorful choices at the salad bar. Load your plate with plenty of colorful vegetables, fruits, and small amounts of lean protein. Skip the creamy and ranch dressings. Low-fat and fat-free dressings often contain a lot of sugar, so use healthy oils with a splash of vinegar or lemon juice instead.
  4. Choose dishes that are grilled, roasted, steamed, or sautéed. This is an easy way to cut down on calories and avoid heart-unfriendly trans fats.
  5. Ask for healthier side dishes. Don’t be afraid to request a salad, vegetables, or fruit instead of starchy side dishes.
  6. Take the opportunity to enjoy some fish. When you eat out, take advantage of having an expert chef doing the cooking and order fish or seafood.
  7. Share desserts. If you decide to have dessert, share it with your dining companion(s). Don’t ignore heart-healthy choices, such as fresh fruit.

 (Taken from: Harvard Health, 26 Jan 2013)





The following is only for older people – however you may share it with someone younger who will probably have a good laugh!


Someone asked the other day ‘What was your favourite ‘fast food’ when you were growing up?’

‘We didn’t have fast food when I was growing up,’ I informed him, ‘All the food was slow.’

“C’mon, seriously.... Where did you eat?’

‘It was a place called home,’ I explained.  ‘Mom cooked every day and when Dad got home from work, we sat down together at the dining room table, and if I didn’t like what she put on my plate, I was allowed to sit there until I did like it.’

By this time the lad was laughing so hard I was afraid he was going to suffer some serious internal damage, so I didn’t tell him the part about how I had to have permission to leave the table!

But here are some other things I would have told him about my childhood if I’d figured his system could have handled it –  Some parents never owned their own house, wore jeans, set foot on a golf course, travelled out of the country or had a credit card.  My parents never drove me to school.  I had a bicycle that weighed probably 50 pounds, and only had one speed (slow).

Pizzas were not delivered to our home, but milk was.  All newspapers were delivered by local school boys.  My brother delivered a newspaper seven days a week.  He had to get up at 6 every morning.

How Many Do You Remember?

Headlight dip-switches on the floor of the car.

Ignition switches on the dashboard.

Using hand signals for cars without turn indicators.

Older Than Dirt Quiz:

Count all the ones that you remember, not the ones you were told about.  Ratings at the bottom.

  1. Sweet cigarettes
  2. Coffee shops with juke boxes
  3. Home milk delivery in glass bottles
  4. Party lines on the telephone
  5. Newsreels/cartoons before the movie
  6. TV test patterns that came on at night after the last show and were there until TV shows started again in the afternoon (there was only one channel with Afrikaans one day and English the next)
  7. Peashooters
  8. Cork popguns
  9. 33 rpm records
  10. 45 rpm records
  11. 78 rpm records
  12. Soda Siphons
  13. Metal ice trays with levers
  14. Blue flashbulbs
  15. Washing machine wringers (mangles)


If you remembered       0-3 = you’re still young

                                    3-6 = you are getting older

                                    7-10 = don’t tell your age

                                    11-15 = you’re positively ancient!


I’m positively ancient, but those memories are some of the best parts of my life!



Ability of brain to protect itself from damage revealed

The origin of an innate ability the brain has to protect itself from damage that occurs in stroke has been explained for the first time.

The Oxford University researchers hope that harnessing this inbuilt biological mechanism, identified in rats, could help in treating stroke and preventing other neurodegenerative diseases in the future.

'We have shown for the first time that the brain has mechanisms that it can use to protect itself and keep brain cells alive,' says Professor Alastair Buchan, Head of the Medical Sciences Division and Dean of the Medical School at Oxford University, who led the work.

The researchers report their findings in the journal Nature Medicine and were funded by the UK Medical Research Council and National Institute for Health Research.

Stroke is the third most common cause of death in the UK. Every year around 150,000 people in the UK have a stroke.

It occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. When this happens, brain cells are deprived of the oxygen and nutrients they need to function properly, and they begin to die.

'Time is brain, and the clock has started immediately after the onset of a stroke. Cells will start to die somewhere from minutes to at most 1 or 2 hours after the stroke,' says Professor Buchan.

This explains why treatment for stroke is so dependent on speed. The faster someone can reach hospital, be scanned and have drugs administered to dissolve any blood clot and get the blood flow re-started, the less damage to brain cells there will be.

It has also motivated a so-far unsuccessful search for 'neuroprotectants': drugs that can buy time and help the brain cells, or neurons, cope with damage and recover afterwards.

The Oxford University research group have now identified the first example of the brain having its own built-in form of neuroprotection, so-called 'endogenous neuroprotection'.

They did this by going back to an observation first made over 85 years ago. It has been known since 1926 that neurons in one area of the hippocampus, the part of the brain that controls memory, are able to survive being starved of oxygen, while others in a different area of the hippocampus die. But what protected that one set of cells from damage had remained a puzzle until now.

'Previous studies have focused on understanding how cells die after being depleted of oxygen and glucose. We considered a more direct approach by investigating the endogenous mechanisms that have evolved to make these cells in the hippocampus resistant,' explains first author Dr Michalis Papadakis, Scientific Director of the Laboratory of Cerebral Ischaemia at Oxford University.

Working in rats, the researchers found that production of a specific protein called hamartin allowed the cells to survive being starved of oxygen and glucose, as would happen after a stroke.

They showed that the neurons die in the other part of the hippocampus because of a lack of the hamartin response.

The team was then able to show that stimulating production of hamartin offered greater protection for the neurons.

Professor Buchan says: 'This is causally related to cell survival. If we block hamartin, the neurons die when blood flow is stopped. If we put hamartin back, the cells survive once more.'

Finally, the researchers were able to identify the biological pathway through which hamartin acts to enable the nerve cells to cope with damage when starved of energy and oxygen.

The group points out that knowing the natural biological mechanism that leads to neuroprotection opens up the possibility of developing drugs that mimic hamartin's effect.

Professor Buchan says: 'There is a great deal of work ahead if this is to be translated into the clinic, but we now have a neuroprotective strategy for the first time. Our next steps will be to see if we can find small molecule drug candidates that mimic what hamartin does and keep brain cells alive.
'While we are focussing on stroke, neuroprotective drugs may also be of interest in other conditions that see early death of brain cells including Alzheimer's and motor neurone disease,' he suggests.

Source: Oxford University (Bizcommunity, 28/2/13)




Ways to dodge incontinence


Most people take bladder control for granted — until the unintended loss of urine interrupts the ability to carry on an ordinary social and work life.


Often the causes of incontinence are out of a person’s control. For example, in women, incontinence is a common side effect of childbirth. For men, it’s most often a side effect of treatment for prostate problems.

Although it may not be possible to avoid incontinence, you can take steps to lower the chances that you will develop this distressing problem.

  1. Watch your weight. Excess weight and incontinence can go hand in hand, particularly for women. One theory is that extra abdominal fat can weaken the pelvic floor muscles and lead to stress incontinence (leaking urine when coughing, laughing, sneezing, etc). In some cases, simply losing weight can improve incontinence.
  2. Don’t smoke. Smoking threatens your health in many ways. It also doubles the likelihood that a woman will develop stress incontinence. Nicotine has also been linked to urge incontinence.
  3. Stay active. In the Nurses’ Health Study, middle-aged women who were most physically active were least likely to develop incontinence.
  4. Minimize bladder irritants. Caffeine and alcohol have been linked to urge incontinence (the feeling you need to urinate even when the bladder isn't full). Carbonated drinks, the artificial sweetener aspartame (NutraSweet), spicy foods, and citrus fruits and juices cause urge incontinence in some people.
  5. Don’t strain with bowel movements. This can weaken the pelvic floor muscles. If your stools are frequently hard or take considerable effort to pass, talk with your doctor. In a study involving people ages 65 and older, treating constipation improved a variety of urinary symptoms, including frequency, urgency, and burning. Increasing the fiber in your diet and drinking enough fluid can help prevent constipation.

Treatments for urinary incontinence are more effective and less invasive than ever. If you have problems with the unintentional loss of urine, don’t suffer in silence. Talk with your doctor. 

 Taken from: Harvard Healthbeat (9/3/13)



JOKE: Piet and Anna went to the 'Garies Landbou Skou' every year.
Every year, Piet would ask:
"Anna, ek wil bietjie in daai helikopter vlieg."
And every year, Anna would answer:
"Jong, Piet, daai helikopter vlug kos vyftig rand. En vyftig rand is vyftig rand!"
... One year, Piet and Anna went to the fair again. Piet said:
"Jong, Anna, vandag is ek 71 jaar oud. As ek nie nou op daardie helikopter klim nie, dan kan ek maar vergeet."
Anna replies:
"Jong Piet, daai helikopter vlug kos vyftig rand. En vyftig rand is vyftig rand!"
The pilot overheard them, and since it was a quiet day, he decided to
have some fun.
"Ek se julle wat. Ek neem julle altwee vir 'n rytjie. As julle vir die hele vlug stil bly, dan is die vlug verniet. So nie, dan betaal julle vyftig rand!"
Piet and Anna agree to the conditions, and into the chopper they got..
The pilot took off, and did all sorts of rolls,dives, twists, turns
and tricks. Not a word was said. He did all his tricks over again, this time
even scaring himself. Still not a word was said.
They landed and the pilot turned to Piet:
"Bliksem! So iets het ek nog nie gesien nie! Ek het tot myself bang
gevlieg, maar julle twee het niks gese nie!"
Piet replied:
"Ek wou so graag iets gese het toe Anna uitgem@@r het, maar vyftig rand is vyftig rand!"






7 ways to keep stress — and blood pressure — down

When it comes to preventing and treating high blood pressure, one often overlooked strategy is managing stress. If you often find yourself tense and on edge, try these seven strategies to reduce stress.

Get enough sleep. Inadequate or poor quality sleep can negatively affect your mood, mental alertness, energy level, and physical health.

Learn relaxation techniques. Meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, deep breathing exercises, and yoga are powerful stress-busters.

Strengthen your social network. Connect with others by taking a class, joining an organization, or participating in a support group.

Hone your time-management skills. The more efficiently you can juggle work and family demands, the lower your stress level.

Try to resolve stressful situations if you can. Don’t let stressful situations fester. Hold family problem-solving sessions and use negotiation skills at home and at work.

Nurture yourself. Treat yourself to a massage. Truly savor an experience: for example, eat slowly and really focusing on the taste and sensations of each bite. Take a walk or a nap or listen to your favorite music.

Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your spouse, friends, and neighbors. If stress and anxiety persist, ask your doctor whether anti-anxiety medications could be helpful.

Add in a healthy lifestyle — maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, regular exercise, and a diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthful fats — and high blood pressure could be a thing of the past.

 From: Harvard Healthbeat 21/3/13





If you ever feel a bit stupid, just read this; you’ll begin to think you’re a genius.

“Smoking kills.  If you’re killed you’ve lost a very important part of your life.”  Brooke Shields, during an interview to become spokesperson for federal anti-smoking campaign.

“I’ve never had major knee surgery on any other part of my body.”  Winston Bennett, University of Kentucky basketball forward.

“Outside of the killings, Washington has one of the lowest crime rates in the country.”  Mayor Marion Barry, Washington DC.

“The lowdown scoundrel deserves to be kicked to death by a jackass, and I’m just the one to do it.”  A congressional candidate in Texas.

“Half this game is ninety percent mental.”  Philadelphia Phillies Manager, Danny Ozark.

“It isn’t pollution that’s harming the environment.  It’s the impurities in our air and water that are doing it ...”  Al Gore, Vice President.

“We’ve got to pause and ask ourselves:  How much clean air do we need?”  Lee Iacocca

“The word ‘genius’ isn’t applicable in football.  A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein.”  Joe Theisman, NFL football quarterback and sports analyst.

“We don’t necessarily discriminate.  We simply exclude certain types of people.”  Colonel Gerald Wellman, ROTC Instructor.

“Your food stamps will be stopped effective March 1992 because we received notice that you passed away.  May God bless you.  You may reapply if there is a change in your circumstances.”  Department of Social Services, Greenville, South Carolina.


(Thanks: Headway, Feb/ March 2013)




5 ways exercise helps men (and women) live longer and better

There is good news for men who want to live longer and healthier. It only takes a few basic lifestyle changes to lower the chances of getting many age-related diseases and increase your chances of staying active and independent. One of the most powerful of these is getting, and staying, physically active. Getting regular exercise can help you:


Have a healthier heart. Regular physical activity raises healthy HDL cholesterol levels and reduces unhealthy LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. It also lowers blood pressure, burns body fat, and lowers blood sugar levels — all of which benefit heart health. The power of exercise to help the heart cannot be understated. Following a heart attack, an exercise-based rehabilitation program can reduce the likelihood of dying from heart disease by one-third.


Keep your brain sharp. Exercise helps keep blood vessels throughout the body healthy and helps reduce the risk of stroke. Several studies suggest that exercise might also help ward off Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.


Control blood sugar levels. Regular physical activity not only helps you maintain a healthy weight, but also boosts sensitivity to insulin and thereby modestly reduces blood sugar levels. This can help people with diabetes better control their disease — and help those at risk for diabetes sidestep this condition. One study found that only two-and-a-half hours of brisk walking a week cut the risk of diabetes by 30%.



Possibly lower cancer risk. Some evidence suggests that regular exercise may reduce the risk of certain cancers. One review found consistent evidence that regular physical activity reduced risk for colon cancer by about 24% in men. Other research suggests that regular exercise may reduce risk of lung cancer by about 20%. There is no proof that exercise lowers the risk of developing prostate cancer — but once a man is diagnosed, physical activity can reduce the chances that it will spread.


Stay strong and mobile. It might surprise you to learn that men also can develop thinning of the bones with age. Regular weight-bearing exercise can help slow this bone loss. Putting weight on your bones — whether by walking, playing football, or lifting weights — stimulates the growth of new bone. Exercise also helps keep joint cartilage healthy. Strong muscles support joints and lighten the load upon them. Exercise may limit and even reverse knee problems by helping to control weight.


(From: Harvard Health, 25/4/13)




4 ways to keep moving with joint pain

If you suffer from joint pain, exercise may seem like the last thing you want to do, or need to do. But the right exercises performed properly can be a long-lasting way to subdue ankle, knee, hip, or shoulder pain. For some people, the right exercise routine can even help delay or sidestep surgery.

While exercise is great medicine, it only works if you carve out time to do it regularly. And sometimes the hardest part of a workout is getting started. Here are four ways to help you get your dose of physical activity:

  1. Carve out the time. Skip several half-hour TV shows a week or work out while watching. Get up half an hour earlier each day for a morning workout. If big blocks of time aren’t falling into your lap, try 10-minute walks, or half a workout in the morning and half in the evening.
  2. Build activity into your daily routine. Take stairs, not elevators. When commuting, get off the bus or subway a stop or two ahead, or park farther away from your workplace. While on the phone, try a few stretches, pace, or do simple exercises like lunges, squats, and heel raises. Bike or walk to work. When running errands within a reasonable radius, park your car in one spot and walk to different shops. Replace your desk and desk chair with a standing desk. Try substituting a stability ball for your desk chair a few hours a day. Rake leaves and shovel snow instead of using a leaf blower or snow blower.
  3. Find a workout buddy. Workouts with a friend can be more enjoyable, plus you’re less likely to cancel on the spur of the moment.
  4. Bugged by bad weather or early darkness? Buy equipment necessary for exercising at home, join a gym, try a class in your community, or walk the mall or an indoor athletic track at a local school.

When motivation flags, remind yourself of your goals, plan small rewards, ask a friend to check up on you, or consider working out with a personal trainer.

 (From Harvard Health, 2/5/13)




Grap: Die toeriste kom in Hluhluwe aan in Zoeloeland en kan nie besluit oor hoe om die naam uit te spreek nie. Na 'n groot debat besluit hulle om maar iets te gaan eet. Hulle kom toe in die restaurant aan en besluit om die kelnerin te vra:

"Ag sal jy asseblief so gaaf wees om ons te vertel hoe mens julle plekkie se naam uitspreek?"

"Ja seker" is die kelnerin se antwoord,

"'n Mens spreek dit so uit: Sspuuurr!"






For men over 50: Take control of your health

What if men approached midlife health the same way that financial experts advise them to plan for retirement? Some of the same rules apply: take a close look at where things stand now, and then take steps to protect your future. Midlife is a good time to lower health risks and invest for long-term health benefits.

How? First, acknowledge what you can’t control. Then put your energies into changing what you can — for the better.

What you can’t control

You can’t change the following factors, but you should take them into account when making a plan to reduce your health risks.


Age. The aging body undergoes gradual physical changes that are normal and inevitable. Although your body has many built-in repair systems, sometimes these also break down, and over time the damage accumulates.


Family history. When an immediate family member — a parent or a sibling — develops a problem such as heart disease or cancer, it could mean that you are at risk as well. Shared genes explain some of this risk, but so do shared lifestyles, such as the food you eat and how active you are.

What you can control

The factors you can control make a big difference in directing your health. Here are some of the most important things to consider as you look at the health investments you want to make going forward.


Whether you smoke. About one in four American men smokes cigarettes, pipes, or some other form of tobacco. If you are one of them, kicking the habit is the single most important thing you can do to improve your health.


What you eat. Choosing and following a healthy diet is an excellent way to reduce your chances of getting a number of life-threatening illnesses, including heart disease, diabetes, and some of the most common cancers.


How much you move. Get active, live longer. Not only that, but live better. Study after study has linked greater amounts of physical activity to improved mood, better blood sugar control, reduced risk of heart disease, and other benefits.


(Harvard health, 5/9/13)