Stroke! 11th May 2016

My wife has had a stroke!

Why?  Eating a healthy diet, weight close to ideal BMI, blood pressure (140/90) not over high.  Excellent lipid profile, at least according to Assoc. Professor Ken Sikaris No matter what you do, and how many medications you take, you cannot eliminate the risk of stroke.

The high risks for stroke, even on a healthy diet are

  1. Age  (nothing you can do about that)
  2. Family history – an indication of genetics!  (nothing you can do about that)
  3. Obesity – Losing weight will help, but the past obesity will haunt as blood vessel damage can take a long time to reverse, if that is even possible.

However, in this case, there is an overriding factor: Radiotherapy to the head and neck, which unfortunately my wife received about a year ago. Research suggests that this increases the risk of stroke by between 2 to 5 times. Here  and  Here for a couple of research examples.

This was NOT discussed with us at Peter Mac Cancer centre before the treatment, which is apparently deliberate.  No one we have discussed this with after the stroke (our GP, the hospital Doctors) disagreed, and “well of course, but we can’t cover all the risks” was one comment!  Don’t get me wrong, the skin cancer was so aggressive, that my wife would have agreed to the radiotherapy even had the risk been explained.

The arteries to the brain are damaged increasing the risk of stroke: “Many investigations have demonstrated that radiation can result in the increase in carotid intima-media thickness, carotid stenosis and consequently lead to a higher risk of cerebrovascular events such as transient ischemic attack and stroke. “

All this is past history, and my wife now has stenosis of the minor brain arteries, if not the carotids themselves. The damage is thought to be permanent, and the risk grows over time as the radiation induced disease progresses. She had a much more serious reaction to the face radiation than most,  and I surmise that the damage to the arteries was also greater than in most.

Some research shows that this damage is NOT amenable to normal treatment for atherosclerosis such as blood thinners etc.

Nothing here PROVES that the stroke was caused by the radiation damage, but the risk of that is so much higher than anything else, that we accept this as the most likely cause.

Much, much more to follow!

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2 Responses to Stroke! 11th May 2016

  1. Ian W (Aka Nautonnier) says:

    Well that is not all you are not warned about. My wife had radiation therapy for breast cancer (now clear) a month before the radiation therapy she had been to her ophthalmologist for a routine check up. She started complaining about ‘sparkles’ around lights at night – at the next routine check with the ophthalmologist it was found she had cataracts in both eyes. A short search online showed this to be a known side-effect of radiation treatment.
    Perhaps there needs to be some software/website that alerts patients to potential side effects seeing as the medical community is occasionally less forthcoming than their patients would like.

  2. And chest radiation for breast cancer carries the same risk for blood vessel damage, which increases the risk of stroke and heart attack – but a healthy diet will decrease that risk.

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