Breaking News

Preventing 1 Million Heart Attacks/Strokes

The Million Hearts program was launched in September 2011 by U.S. health officials to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes over the next five years according to the “HealthDay News” section of U.S. News & World Report.

The goal is to raise awareness of heart disease risk factors, improve access to good care and encourage Americans to live healthier lives by getting them to take aspirin if they are at risk, to control their blood pressure, manage cholesterol levels, stop smoking and eat healthier.

Statistics show that almost everyone has been touched by someone who has had heart disease, a heart attack or stroke, with 2 million heart attacks and strokes a year resulting in 800,000 deaths. There is also an economic burden of $1.2 billion per day reflecting medical costs and loss of productivity.

This goal will be aided by government program leaders such as Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Dr. Janet Wright, senior vice president for science and quality at the American College of Cardiology, as well as several public-sector participants. These include the American Heart Association, the American Medical Association, the YMCA and Walgreens.

If the goal is reached, 10 million more Americans will have their high blood pressure under control, 20 million more will have effective treatment for high cholesterol, there will be 4 million fewer smokers and healthier food choices will be made according to Dr. Frieden.

For more information:

Researchers Comment on Soaring Stroke Costs Reaching Trillions

Without improving preventative care or treatment, the cost of strokes will soar to $2.2 trillion. This is a conservative estimate based on current conditions that put people at risk for stroke. Researchers state that the projected larger proportion of the population, minorities, will face greater stroke costs mostly due to lost wages. Additionally, differences in risk factors such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease as well as genetics and health may account for the highest total per patient cost for minorities.


As of March 1, 2011, Dr. Patricia D. Hurn, Ph.D., accepts prominent leadership position at University of Texas System

Dr. Hurn is Associate Vice Chancellor for Health Research at The University of Texas System in Austin and Research Professor in Neurobiology in the College of Natural Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin. She is a cerebrovascular physiologist with specific research interests in gender differences and the role of sex steroids in brain injury. Dr. Hurn's research team has explored extensively the role of estrogen in protecting the brain-at-risk for stroke. Her work is focused on cellular mechanisms of brain damage in stroke, with particular emphasis on the role of female reproductive steroids, estrogen and progesterone. In addition to her leadership activities, Dr. Hurn continues to hold NIH grants to study stroke, which are centered on gender differences in stroke.

Strokes are rising among young and middle aged

On Wednesday, February 9, 2011 at the American Stroke Association meeting, the results of a major stroke study were reported. This report showed that strokes are rising fast among young and middle aged adults. Trends went the opposite way in older people. More strokes were related to high blood pressure and clogged arteries in younger people. Other risk factors include smoking, obesity, alcohol overuse and diabetes. It has also been suggested that the risk of stroke increased with those having more than 1,500 milligrams of salt per day in their diet.


Goddess Scholar Appointed as Stroke Center Director

As of October 1, 2010, Goddess Fund Scholar, Dr. Cheryl Bushnell, has been appointed the Director of the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center Stroke Center. She will be overseeing the inpatient stroke service, the telestroke network, and developing the research infrastructure of the stroke center. The primary goal with all of these efforts is to improve the quality of stroke care for patients.

Brain Repair After Stroke

Despite major advances, most patients do not get to the hospital in time to benefit from the clot buster drugs such as tPA. And, many patients who do get tPA nonetheless still have significant disability months after stroke. A number of labs are examining ways to enhance the brain’s own recovery systems to improve outcome after a stroke. Therapies under study include stem cells, drugs that change brain chemistry, growth factors, robotic devices, brain stimulation, and more. The University of California, Irvine is examining each of these in the laboratory of Dr. Steven C. Cramer, Professor of Neurology, and a member of The Goddess Fund’s Medical Advisory Board. More information about studies, which use a robot to help an arm weakened by stroke, can be found at

New AAN Guideline on MRI and Stroke

Both MRI and CT are used to image the brain in order to diagnose acute ischemic stroke. CT scans are more accessible at most community hospitals. The new AAN Evidence-based Guidelines concluded that MRI scans are better than CT scans for diagnosing acute ischemic stroke for patients presenting within 12 hours of symptom onset. MRI scans can help distinguish acute ischemic stroke from “stroke mimics”. The volume of tissue damaged on the acute diffusion weighted MRI (DWI) is also useful in predicting the final stroke size. Beyond 12 hours, CT scans may be as useful as MRI for diagnosing stroke, depending on the size and location of the stroke. The Guidelines found that there was insufficient evidence to support or refute the value of MRI perfusion weighted imaging (PWI), which provides information about blood flow to brain tissue, but generally requires contrast and adds time and expense to the study.

Prominent Researcher Joins Goddess Fund Medical Advisory Board

Dr. Karen L. Furie, Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Stroke Service and AssociateProfessor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School, has generously agreed to share her expertise with the Goddess Fund. Her research has focused on stroke biomarkers, including neuroimaging and genetic determinants of stroke, and clinical trials. An expert in stroke prevention, Dr. Furie seeks to educate both health care professionals and the lay community, particularly women. Her current work seeks to further reduce stroke risk as well to improve outcomes for stroke victims. She is interested in gender disparities in stroke and optimizing the participation of women in stroke research. We welcome her warmly.

New Hope for Stroke Victims?

Discoveries Magazine (Summer 2009) reports that Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in California achieved remarkable success using The Penumbra System to retrieve clots and restore blood circulation in large brain vessels. Using a catheter, the device "appears to be effective in retrieving clots from blocked arteries in the brain in approximately 80 percent of patients within eight hours of the onset of their symptoms," stated Michael J. Alexander, MD, FACS, Director of the Cedars-Sinai Neurovascular Center. The article further suggests that 30 percent of patients treated within the first three hours of the onset of a stroke have improved recovery outcomes.

This could be wonderful news for stroke patients. We distributed the article to our Medical Advisory Board and asked for their comments. "We use it often," said Steven Cramer, MD, Associate Professor of Neurology and Anatomy & Neurobiology at the University of California, Irvine. He cited that case of a 15 year-old who came to the emergency room completely paralyzed on one side, and walked out of the hospital after treatment with Penumbra. Other doctors on our Medical Advisory Board stressed that The Penumbra System has not been thoroughly evaluated in clinical trials, so the claim of improved recovery has not been proven.

Two of our MAB members, Chelsea Kidwell, MD, Professor of Neurology, Georgetown University and Joseph Broderick, MD, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Neurology at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, are leading national NIH-funded randomized clinical trials on several devices, including The Penumbra System. The results of their studies might provide very good news for stroke victims and their families.

Robot Therapy Helps Stroke Patients Regain Motor Function

Goddess Fund Medical Advisory Board Members Steven C. Cramer, M.D., and Jeffrey L. Saver, M.D., presented urgent research at the American Stroke Association's 2009 Conference in San Diego.

June 1, 2009 — Dr. Cramer's work studied the effects of robot therapy on patients whose strokes had occurred an average of 2.6 years before. Some had suffered attacks as long as 10 years prior to the program. "Motor Therapy", and the more complex "Premotor Therapy", challenged patients to squeeze, relax, and rest their hands, with computers in some cases correcting movement.

All patients had measurable gains after one month of treatment, and both forms of therapy produced similar gains in the group overall. But six of the patients with less disability and motor system damage showed better results with "Premotor," rather than "Motor" therapy. Learn more »

Dr. Jeffrey L. Saver, lead author of a time window study for stroke treatment, presented findings about "The Golden Hour" — the crucial 60 minutes after onset of stroke symptoms. "...In stroke, time lost is brain lost," Dr. Saver stated. Currently, more than one quarter of ischemic stroke patients arrived at emergency rooms within one hour, and most of those are treated with tPA, an effective clot-busting drug. Before tPA can be administered, however, patients must undergo numerous time-consuming tests. Speedy arrival at the emergency room allows time for them before drugs are administered. "There are a huge number of reasons for waiting, but they are all trumped by the fact that the longer you wait the more brain dies," Dr. Saver concluded.

Medicare Patients Do Not Receive Powerful Acute Stroke Drug In Most U.S. Hospitals

Most U.S. hospitals did not give an approved acute stroke drug to any Medicare patients between 2005 and 2007, and a large portion of the general population does not have ready access to a hospital that provides the treatment to Medicare patients, according to research presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2009.

Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is a thrombolytic, or clot-busting agent. It's the only drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the acute (urgent) treatment of ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke. When given intravenously in the first three hours after the start of stroke symptoms, tPA has been shown to significantly reverse the effects of stroke and reduce permanent disability. Read Full Story »


Not Just an Old-Woman Worry

What you must know now to protect yourself from a stroke

By Myrna Blyth

Most of us tend to think of stroke as a disease that primarily affects the old. But more than a quarter million young women — between the ages of 18 and 44 — have a stroke each year. The strokes are rarely fatal, but they can be disabling with a long-term impact on a woman's ability to earn a living and care for her children — and even care for herself.

Here is what every woman should know about strokes:

  • Almost 800,000 people a year are affected.
  • It is the third leading cause of death.
  • It is the most common cause of long-term disability.
  • More women die of strokes than die of breast cancer.

Krysta Osweiler, of Manassas, Virginia, was only 27 when she had a stroke. Krsta's husband knew something was wrong when, after she had gone to bed with a bad headache, she slept all the next day. He couldn't wake her when he came home from work in the late afternoon. He called 911, but the EMT workers were unable to find what was wrong. Only when she was given an MRI in the hospital was her stroke detected. She was air-lifted to another hospital for treatment. It has taken months for her to recover.

Why do young women have strokes? They share some of the same risk factors as older adults, which can include being a cigarette smoker or having diabetes or high blood pressure. Dr. Steven J. Kittner, of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, says, "We also believe that women who have migraines with an aura — that means seeing a pattern of light — and those who use oral contraceptive appear to be at greater risk."

There are also some risks associated with pregnancy. Women who have pre-eclampsia and eclampsia during late pregnancy are more vulnerable. And the immediate post-partum period, especially the 14 days after delivery seems to be a time when strokes can happen.

Every woman should know the symptoms of a stroke. At a recent Conference in Washington, D.C., organized by the Goddess Fund for Stroke Research for Women and the Society for Women's Health Research, Dr. Dawn Kleindorfer of the University of Cincinnati imparted a simple way to recognize symptoms of stroke:

Think about the word FAST.

  • F — Face. Does one's face look uneven?
  • A — Arms. Is the person unable to keep their arms straight in front of them. Does one arm drift down?
  • S — Speech. Does their speech sound strange or unusual?
  • T — Time to call 911. If any of the above symptoms are present, get help immediately: Two million brain cells die every minute when one is having a stroke. Treating a person as quickly as possible can make all the difference in her prognosis and recovery.

"Silent" Strokes More Common Than Previously Thought... And in Younger People

A Boston University School of Medicine research team found that "silent" strokes (whose symptoms are not always obvious) are more common than doctors previously believed. They may, in fact be five times more common than full-blown strokes in people under 65, and not uncommon in people under 50.

"Silent" strokes (known as Silent Cerebral Infarcts or SCI) were detected in 10.2% of the study's 1,059 participants over a five year period, while full-blown, clinical stroke occurred in 1.5%. No clinical strokes were detected in participants under 50, yet MRI tests revealed that 2.4% had actually suffered SCI.

Dr. Jose Rafael Romero, an Assistant Professor of Neurology at Boston University Medical School, comments that silent strokes are not really silent: "What we saw is that the(brain)damage caused by the silent stroke can be seen by the MRI," he stated. Researchers point out that those who suffer SCI are not only more likely candidates for clinical stroke, but more likely to experience other health problems as well.

"The main risk factor is hyertension, and, in some studies, smoking," Dr. Romero stated. "The problem is that transferring the theory into practice is very difficult, because people don't realize they have high blood pressure and we have problems with compliance."

So should we all rush out and get an MRI? No, say researchers, more studies are needed. "Most of the participants come from European descent, so the results cannot be generalized to other types of populations, to Hispanic or African-Americans, for example," said Dr. Romero. "We're going to be looking at clinical markers of disease, but we're not there yet."

Meanwhile, get your blood pressure checked regularly and QUIT SMOKING.

A Reminder...

The FDA has issued a mandatory recall of all over-the-counter medications containing Phenylpropanolamine (PPA). It was an ingredient in diet aids and many cold medications, and has been linked to increased hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding in the brain) in women aged 18-49. Men may also be at risk. Check your medicine cabinet for any old medications containing PPA and dispose of them. Check the labels of any diet aids or cold medications you might purchase to be sure there is no PPA in them — be sure the recall was complete.

For further information, please check this FDA site:

These medications contain (or did contain) Phenylpropanolamine:

  • Acutrim Diet Gum Appetite Suppressant
  • Acutrim Plus Dietary Supplements
  • Acutrim Maximum Strength Appetite Control
  • Alka-Seltzer Plus Children's Cold Medicine Effervescent
  • Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold medicine (cherry or orange)
  • Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold Medicine Original
  • Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold & Cough Medicine Effervescent
  • Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold & Flu Medicine
  • Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold & Sinus Effervescent
  • Alka-Seltzer Plus Night-Time Cold Medicine
  • BC Allergy Sinus Cold Powder
  • BC Sinus Cold Powder
  • Comtrex Flu Therapy & Fever Relief
  • Day & Night Contac 12-Hour Cold Capsules
  • Contac 12 Hour Caplets
  • Coricidin D Cold, F lu & Sinus
  • Dexatrim Caffeine Free
  • Dexatrim Extended Duration
  • Dexatrim Gelcaps
  • Dexatrim Vitamin C/Caffeine Free
  • Dimetapp Cold & Allergy Chewable Tablets
  • Dimetapp Cold & Cough Liqui-Gels
  • Dimetapp DM Cold & Cough Elixir
  • Dimetapp Elixir
  • Dimetapp 4 Hour Liquid Gels
  • Dimetapp 4 Hour Tablets
  • Dimetapp 12 Hour Extendtabs Tablets
  • Naldecon DX Pediatric Drops
  • Permathene Mega-16
  • Robitussin CF
  • Tavist-D 12 Hour Relief of Sinus & Nasal Congestion
  • Triaminic DM Cough Relief
  • Triaminic Expectorant Chest & Head
  • Triaminic Syrup Cold & Allergy
  • Triaminic Triaminicol Cold & Cough

Good News! (In Moderation)

A bulletin from Johns Hopkins Health Alerts ( reports that cocoa-rich dark chocolate may be as good at lowering blood pressure as some medications.

Studies reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association found that people who ate 50-100 g of dark chocolate a day for two weeks had an average blood pressure decrease of 5/3 mm Hg.

The downside? Chocolate is high in calories, and too much of a good thing could cause weight gain that might counteract benefits. A second study showed that those eating 6 grams daily (0.25 oz) had nearly the same benefits as the 50-100 g group--with only 30 calories.

Listening to Music May Improve Stroke Recovery

Researchers in Finland have found that stroke patients who listen to music for a couple of hours a day had significantly enhanced recoveries. Their findings were reported in the medical journal, Brain.

The research team started working with survivors as soon as possible after hospitalization. "We thought that it was important to start listening during the acute post-stroke stage, as the brain can undergo dramatic changes during the first weeks and months of recovery, and we know these changes can be enhanced by stimulation from the environment," said Teppo Särkämö, the study's lead author.

Three months after stroke, verbal memory had improved by 60 percent in music listeners, by 18 percent in audio book listeners, and by 29 percent in non-listeners. Further, focused attention, the ability to control and perform mental operations and resolve conflict among responses improved measurably for the music group. No improvement was seen among the study's non-listening participants. Not surprisingly, the music group also experienced less confusion and depression than non-listeners.

Stroke Studies Announced by NIH

The National Institutes of Health has announced that studies for stroke patients are currently being conducted at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, MD.

The studies' purpose includes exploring ways to improve movement, regain function in partially paralyzed limbs, and to improve sense of touch.

Participants must be 18 years of age or older, and must have had a single stroke (on one side of the brain) at least 3 months prior to enrollment. You may not quality if you have had multiple strokes, have a serious illness other than stroke, or if you are pregnant.

There is no charge for study-related tests, and compensation for time and inconvenience is provided for most studies. Transportation assistance may be available. Se habla espanol.

For more information, call: 1-800-411-1222 (TTY: 1-866-411-1010)

Too Much Sleep Tied to Stroke Risk for Postmenopausal Women

Reuters News reported 7/17/08 that women 50-79 years old getting nine hours of sleep per night have been shown to have a 60 to 70 percent higher risk of stroke compared to women getting seven hours of sleep nightly. The study, from 40 locations around the U.S., ran from 1994 to 2005, and was reported in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.

"Whether it's because of sleep apnea or because of restless sleep or because of any number of things, we don't know," Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, one of the researchers, said. It is also unclear whether the findings would apply to men and younger women.

"The study definitely does not say that for women who sleep longer, if they decrease their hours of sleep they'll be better off," Wassertheil-Smoller added, noting that there are known bad physiological effects from sleep deprivation that might play a role.

For details, link to:

Podcast on "Stroke in Women" Airing on June 3, 2008 On Whirlpool Home Appliances American Family Podcasts

The Goddess Fund is excited to announce that our organization will be featured on a podcast at with Gigi Lubin on June 3, 2008, with The Goddess Fund's Founder and CEO, Lynn B. Goddess, and Medical Advisory Board member and preeminent stroke neurologist Dr. Steven J. Kittner discussing "Stroke in Women".

The podcast is a conversation about women and stroke. It seeks to raise awareness for stroke symptoms in women. Some of the topics that are going to be discussed on this podcast are; the history and mission of The Goddess Fund, the groups of women mostly susceptible to a stroke, modifiable risk factors, and preventative measures which could be taken..

Please log onto on Tuesday, May 27th to see the preview. You can listen to this Podcast via iTunes or on June 3rd by clicking on the topic "Stroke in Women." We hope that this wonderful podcast reaches as many people as possible and bring clarification to all women regarding this severe medical issue.

The City of Chicago Proclaims June 9, 2008 as The Goddess Fund For Stroke Research in Women Day

Richard M. Daley, Mayor of the City of Chicago, proclaimed June 9, 2008 to be "The Goddess Fund For Stroke Research In Women Day". This wonderful proclamation was made possible because of the diligent work of Karen Butler our Trustee and Chair of Chicago Friends of The Goddess Fund and her committee.

Chicago Friends Hold Fifth Annual Fundraiser

On June 9th, the Chicago Friends of the Goddess Fund will host "An Evening for Sea Goddesses" its 5th Annual Fundraiser. The event will be held at the Chicago Yacht Club and the evening will have cocktails, dinner and dancing followed by a boat ride up the Chicago River. Remarks will be made by Dr. Philip Gorelick, a member of The Goddess Fund national Medical Advisory Board. The Chicago Friends of The Goddess Fund's mission is to raise money for research and education about stroke in women in the Chicago region. The event will begin at 6:00pm and tickets are $150 and $300 per person. The River Cruise will begin at 9:00pm-11:00pm only 90 spaces are available, on a first reply, first served response. Cocktail or Business attire is permissible. Please note there will be limited parking available. For any additional questions regarding the event or ticketing information please contact Erin Tower at

Goddess Fund Medical Advisory Board Members Quoted In Article about Strokes and Women

February 2008 — The Goddess Fund Medical Advisory Board members, Dr. Phillip Gorelick, Neurology Chief at the University of Illinois in Chicago and Dr. Ralph Sacco, member of and Neurology Chief at the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami, were quoted in a feature article about stroke which ran on the website, Wednesday, February 20, 2008. The article, "Strokes among Middle Aged Women Triple", states that the increase of stroke in women is due to the obesity epidemic. Middle-age women waistlines increased almost 2 inches more than a decade earlier. Therefore, researchers say, the bulge of the waistline correlates with the increase in strokes. Also, women's body mass index (used to measure obesity) increased from 27 in a earlier Federal Health Survey during (1988-1994) to 29 in the most recent Federal Health Survey from (1999-2004). This new research suggests that the written text on stroke related incidences needs to be updated because women may now be more at risk of a stroke then middle age men. Two other studies have found that hospital stroke patients that were admitted at night or weekends were most likely to die. However, doctors state that no one should wait to receive treatment because treatment can only be in the first few hours after symptoms appear.

To read the articles in their entirety please use the following link:

ASA: Cats May Protect Owners Against Cardiovascular Death

February 2008 — Medpage Today published information gathered by researcher Dr. Adnan Qureshi, M.D., of the Minnesota Stroke Institute in Minneapolis. The preliminary findings in this research states, individuals have a lower risk from cardiovascular disease, including stroke if they own cats. The researchers observed that people with cats reduce a risk for death. Presently, there was no evidence of a considerable difference between people who owned dogs or other pets. Dr. Qureshi and his colleagues used records of the second National Health and Nutrition Examination Study (NHANES II) showing that 4,435 patients between the ages of 35-70 were asymptomatic for coronary cardiovascular disease at baseline; however 55% of those individuals were cat owners. There is also a chance that cats reduce stress and anxiety levels more than dogs and other pets. The researchers hope that cat ownership might be considered a cost-effective intervention in reducing heart attacks and probably other forms of cardiovascular disease such as stroke for high-risk individuals, if the findings can be confirmed.


Daytime Dozing 'Stroke Warning'

February 2008 — BBC News published information gathered by lead researcher Dr. Bernadette Boden-Albala Assistant Professor of Neurology at Columbia University. These findings were announced last week during The International Stroke Conference. The article stated regular unintentional daytime dozing may be an early warning sign of stroke in elderly people. This information was obtained by doing a study on 2,000 people asking "how often they doze off in different situations?" It appeared that the risk of stroke for people who reported "some dozing" compared to those with no dozing was 2.6 times greater. It was 4.5 times greater for those that reported "significant dozing". Daytime sleepiness is a sign of sleep apnoea (short periods when breathing stops during sleep) at night and is also an increased risk factor for stroke. The research concluded that it is worth evaluating patients for sleep problems and also encourages that if a person has sleep apnoea they should have a sleep apnoea screening.