Monthly Archives: August, 2013

Strike Away Stroke FAST

Some readers of this blog asked what they can do to prevent  a stroke from hitting them. Plenty!

A very recent research study just released  stroke_prevention2in the British Medical Journal by 4 authors, one of whom is a Malaysian classmate who now works in the UK, reveals 4 things that people can do to reduce the chances of getting a stroke by half.

The study, conducted in England involving 20,000 people over 11 years, showed that they could reduce the chances of getting stroke by 50% if they did all the following life-style measures:

  • not smoking
  • being physically active
  • limiting their alcohol intake to not more than 14 units a week
  • fruit and vegetable intake of at least five servings a day.

Apart from the above, it is well-known that the presence of the following risk-factors also predispose to stroke: high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, atrial fibrillation (irregular heart-beats), heart disease and certain blood diseases which cause clotting.

One does need to realise, however, that some risk-factors cannot be changed or eliminated. Try changing your age (the chance of having a stroke approximately doubles for each decade of life after age 55), sex (more common in men), your relatives( your stroke risk is greater if a parent, grandparent, sister or brother has had a stroke) or the fact that you have had a previous stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA, or warning strokes)!

The whole idea of getting away from stroke is to eliminate as many of the above risk-factors as possible and to lead a healthy lifestyle.

See my related article “Mending A Stroke In Time”.

The American Who Woke Up Speaking Swedish – Mystery Solved!

Last month, it was reported that an American, Michael Boatwright was discovered unconscious in a Motel 6 room in California , but when he awoke could not remember anything about himself, recognize even his own reflection, nor how to speak English.

Even though his driver’s license says he was born in Florida and served in the U.S. Navy from 1971 to 1973, Boatwright has no memory of his life to date and now answers only to Johan and converses in Swedish to doctors with the help of an interpreter.


Michael Bothwright – said to be suffering from amnesia on waking up.

This brings to mind several similar cases in the past where apparently normal strangers have been seen to be aimlessly walking around in total amnesia, with no recollection at all on their name or background.

As in this case, the cause has been attributable to a medical condition called transient global amnesia a sudden, temporary episode of short-term memory loss that cannot be attributed to conditions like epilepsy or stroke (which are known causes of temporary amnesia).


While the condition is benign, it can bring lots of anxiety to the sufferer during the episode.

What causes this condition? Basically, any sudden stress to the brain, whether in the form of sudden immersion in cold water, physical strain, mental stress, head injury or even sexual intercourse. They tend to occur in those over 50 and who suffer from migraine. It is thought that in all of the above conditions, there is a temporary constriction of the blood vessels going to the brain, causing temporary brain malfunction.

The good news is that the condition is temporary and usually resolves within 24 hours. No treatment is required and the condition seldom recurs.

Back to Michael Boatwright. It turns out that the American had lived in Sweden in the 1980s where he learnt to speak good Swedish and was known as  Johan Ek. He was identified by members of the Swedish branch of the Society for Creative Anachronism, where he was a keen participant of the group’s jousting team. So, mystery solved..


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