26-year-old NHL star has a stroke; shines light on symptoms in young adults

by Sunitha Santhakumar, M.D., stroke program director, Beaumont, Royal Oak

(Photo via AP)

(Photo via AP)

It was revealed last week that Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang suffered a stroke and will be out for at least six weeks. While his doctors don’t believe that this stroke will be career-threatening, the diagnosis still came as a shock to the 26-year-old Letang.

What is even more shocking is that stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Stroke has traditionally been considered a disease of elderly, but the incidence of stroke has been rising in the younger population. The risk if stroke in young adults less than age 45 is about 1 in 10,000.

High blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease are causes off stroke at any age but specific stroke risk factors are seen in children and young adults, including cardiac abnormalities like heart valve defects, clotting disorders and use of oral contraceptives.

Letang’s stroke diagnosis came after he developed an episode of dizziness and nausea. It was also reported that Letang’s tests showed a pre-existing heart defect, called Patent Foramen Ovale or PFO, that had gone undetected. About one in four adults are noted to have a PFO, usually present since birth. PFO is a rare cause of stroke and majority of the people never have any symptoms. It is not clear if PFO is the cause or only an association.

Young people should not ignore the signs and symptoms of stroke, even though many think that a stroke can only happen to the elderly.  Therefore, education of stroke risk factors is very important. If someone is experiencing symptoms of stroke, call 9-1-1 and come to the emergency room for immediate treatment.

According to a quote on ESPN.com, Letang said he hopes that making his condition public, he can help others to seek medical help if they experience the symptoms associated with a stroke regardless of their age or general health.

This information is for educational purposes only. Dr. Santhakumar has no first-hand knowledge of Letang’s case.
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Beaumont, Troy Goes Red for Women’s Heart Month

For the third year,  Beaumont, Troy employees were asked to put their designer hats on and create a red gown and dress a mannequin in honor of the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Campaign.

Seven wonderful designs were submitted for voting by employees and visitors at the hospital. The dresses will be on display at Beaumont, Troy for the rest of the month.

Take a look at this year’s crafty submissions and vote for your favorite below:

Great work, everybody!

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Setting SMART Fitness Goals in 2014

Everyone has a different reason for wanting to get in shape.  It’s important to ask a simple question before getting started with an exercise program:  What are my fitness goals for 2014?

Your goals may be health related or perhaps performance oriented. Your exercise program should be designed with your goals in mind. Many of the health related benefits of exercise can be attained with 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise five days a week.

Setting Fitness GoalsPerformance oriented programming will likely require a greater time commitment and /or exercising at a higher intensity.

What’s your current activity level?

Increasing your weekly exercise time 10%/week assures progress toward your goal while minimizing your risk of over-doing it.

Do you have any health issues?

Vigorous exercise may not be appropriate for you if you have heart disease, high blood pressure, unusual shortness of breath, or diabetes. Consult with your physician prior to beginning a program vigorous exercise.

What do you enjoy doing?

You’ll be more likely to maintain exercise habits if the activities you choose are comfortable and enjoyable. Modify your exercise program as needed to enhance your compliance.

Enter the Beaumont New Year, New You sweepstakes for a chance to attend a Beaumont healthy cooking class or a Beaumont cook book. Let us help you with your New Year’s resolution!

Set SMART fitness goals
Once you have an idea of what you want to achieve and where you currently stand, it’s time to set SMART fitness goals in 2014—one of the most successful methods for meeting your fitness goals:

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Student volunteers experience emergency medicine apprenticeship

Congratulations to five college student who recently completed our new Emergency Medicine Apprenticeship in December.

The five student volunteers, who were picked out of many applicants, were: Alexis Allen, Brandon Hana, Diane Hermiz, Brett LeVesseur and Katie Schell. They were selected as student volunteers for a three-month program, which kicked off last October.

Emergency apprentices

Theses health-care students got a look at how the Emergency Center operates day-to-day at Beaumont. The apprenticeship program gives students the unique opportunity to work side-by-side with emergency physicians, nurses, physician assistants and technicians.

The program had the students providing comfort care to emergency patients, performing patient screenings, transporting patients and assisting with medical-supply stocking. They also attended lectures  and workshops on health care and medical issues, observed procedures, shadowed physicians and participated in simulation labs.

Jeffrey Ditkoff, M.D., director of Emergency Medicine Operations, is behind the apprenticeship program.

“The student volunteers were incredibly enthusiastic and hard-working,” Dr. Ditkoff says. “They all had a great time participating in the program, and they inspired the physicians they worked with to remember the things that led us to go into medicine in the first place.”

Beaumont’s Emergency Medicine Apprenticeship is available to current volunteers who meet the program’s criteria. If you’re interested in becoming a Beaumont volunteer, learn more or register here.

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Olympic Sports That Burn the Most Calories

Every four years, the world watches the best winter athletes as they compete for gold on the ice, snow and slopes. Want to feel like an Olympian during the Sochi Games? Try some of these Olympic sports that burn the most calories.

Olympic Sports That Burn The Most CaloriesThe Olympic schedule is full of downhill events like the slalom and Super-G, while on the cross-country side, athletes ski up to 50km in grueling tests of stamina and strength. You’d think cross-country skiing would be a better workout, but the strength and balance needed to stay on your feet during downhill skiing burns a lot of calories. One hour of downhill or cross-country skiing can burn anywhere from 500 to 1,000 calories depending on your weight and intensity.

The Olympics are full of speed skating events – sprints, like the 500m and long distance races that go for 5,000m. Skating is a great way to build strong legs and core muscles and an hour of moderately intense skating usually burns between 500-600 calories.

Ice Hockey
Ice hockey combines sprint skating with slightly longer distances, but also includes stick work and quick agility that both require a ton of core strength and stamina. Some of the best hockey players in the world are on the ice for more than 24 minutes each game. Playing a moderately intense game of hockey burns around 700 calories.

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Part Three | Beaumont urologists embark on medical mission to Africa

A team of Beaumont urologists flew to Zambia last month on their seventh annual medical mission trip to provide specialty surgical care to African patients. Kenneth Peters, M.D., and Larry Sirls, M.D., headed the Beaumont team, which included surgical residents and nursing staff. Read Part One and Part Two of this blog series.

by Larry Sirls, M.D., Beaumont urologist

Several times during our trip we have lost power. We know this is the rainy season, but over the last many years we have had very few storms, occasional rains, but no big, classic storms. This year, we have had big storms every day. Huge black fronts cover half of the sky with lightning sprinkled in, coming toward us from the horizon. It’s beautiful, really. However, when the storm hits it’s raining sideways, the wind howls and there is a good chance we lose power. We lost power at least once every day, most days several times, sometimes for an hour or more.


Losing power when you are operating ranges from bad to very, very bad. If we are doing surgery with a scope that needs a light source and electrocautery, the surgery just stops right there because you can no longer see, the operating field is black. If you are doing an open surgery, you can use a battery-powered headlight and can often continue on.

We are in the southern hemisphere, it is our winter at home and I ask a local doctor if this is considered their summer.  She says, “What is summer? I do not understand. We only have rain and no rain.” Well, we are in the rain, and it is hot. It is not steamy jungle hot (that you might think of as summertime Africa near the equator) because our location is on an elevated plateau, about 3,500 feet above sea level.  Yet it is hot enough that when we have our surgical gowns on we sweat a lot. A lot.

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Beaumont Food of the Month: Grapefruit

Food of the Month - GrapefruitGrapefruit is more than a beloved breakfast staple; it’s a genuine superfood! These tangy citrus fruits are in season from winter through early spring, and offer plenty of tart juice with just a hint of sweetness.  There are lots of varieties of grapefruit; seeded, seedless, red, pink – even white!

Eating just one half of a standard grapefruit (approximately 120 grams) will provide an impressive 64% of your daily value of calcium. Red and pink grapefruit also offer the antioxidant lycopene, a carotenoid phytonutrient with cancer-fighting properties. Grapefruit has also been proven to reduce blood levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Juice it, pickle it, bake with it – or enjoy this low-calorie treat all on its own!

Nutritional information

  • Grapefruit (1/2 fruit)
  • Calories: 52
  • Fat: 0.2 (0%)
  • Cholesterol: 0
  • Potassium: 166 g (4%)
  • Total Carbohydrates: 13 g (4%)
  • Protein: 1 g (2%)
  • Vitamin A: 28%
  • Vitamin C: 64%
  • Calcium: 2%
  • Magnesium: 2%
  • Iron: 0%

How to cook with grapefruit

Though often enjoyed alone, grapefruit is a versatile fruit that complements many types of dishes. Consider using grapefruit juice or peel in the place of other citrus fruits – like oranges or lemons – in your cooking or baking.

Try a few of these recipes:

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10 Exercises You Can Do At Home

When the weather gets cold, it’s harder and harder to fit regular exercise into your day. Here are ten exercises you can do anytime, anywhere – with no equipment!

Downward Dog

10 Exercises You Can Do At HomeYoga uses your own body weight to help tone muscles while increasing flexibility – and it’s one of the easiest forms of exercise to practice at home. Get started with the Downward Dog yoga pose by placing your hands and knees on the floor. Keep your knees under your hips and your hands slightly in front of your body. Gradually lift knees off the floor, slowly straightening legs and pushing your buttocks toward the ceiling, to create a triangle with the floor. Hold the pose while gently pressing your heels toward the floor.


Push-ups work the pectoral muscles – as well as your triceps and deltoids – and are essential to a good upper body workout. Place your toes on the ground and your hands on the floor, extending your arms beneath your shoulders; then, bend your elbows to lower your torso to the ground. Straighten your arms to lift your body to its starting position. If a traditional push-up is too challenging, start with knees on the floor. To add difficulty, try lifting one foot off the floor and extending one arm in front of you through the move.


Give your abdominal muscles a workout with a traditional crunch. Lay flat on your back with knees bent and feet shoulder-width apart. With your hands behind your head, use your core muscles to lift your shoulders off the ground while keeping your back straight and neck relaxed.

Side leg lift

A side leg lift works your abs, hips and butt. Lay on your side with your legs stacked on top of each other and your head resting on your arm. Lift the top leg for one count and return to the starting position to complete one rep. Switch sides and repeat.


To work your thighs, buttocks and hamstrings, try incorporating lunges into your routine. Start out standing upright with feet together then extend your left foot behind you while bending your right knee to bring you forward to the ground. Switch sides and repeat.

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Part Two | Beaumont urologists embark on medical mission to Africa

A team of Beaumont urologists flew to Zambia last month on their seventh annual medical mission trip to provide specialty surgical care to African patients. Kenneth Peters, M.D., and Larry Sirls, M.D., headed the Beaumont team, which included surgical residents and nursing staff. Read Part One of this blog series.

by Larry Sirls, M.D., Beaumont urologist

urology_missionDuring our trip, we evaluated approximately 50 patients and did surgery on 30. The unique thing about going to Africa is not knowing what kind of problems we will see. This year we did fewer surgeries, but the cases were more complex as patients traveled from distant areas of Zambia. We were faced with many interesting cases and were able to repair many of these complex issues and markedly improved their quality of life.

We brought more than $10,000 in donated supplies allowing us to do bipolar transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) in approximately 15 men who otherwise had to live with a chronic catheter (one was 99 years old!). We were the only place in the entire country who could provide this procedure. It was great seeing their joy when we were able to remove their catheter. Some of the prostates were so enlarged we needed to do open surgery to remove the gland.  These were very challenging, but all went well.

The residents on the trip had an incredible experience evaluating and operating on these patients. Our main frustration is that we were not able to get our medical supplies (500 pounds) from customs in Lusaka. It was a paperwork nightmare that will eventually get sorted out and the desperately needed supplies will arrive at the hospital to enhance the care of the patients.

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Beaumont Heart and Vascular Screening | American Heart Month

BEAUMONT _ American Heart MonthFebruary is American Heart Month where hospitals and health educators across the country promote prevention and awareness of heart disease. According to the CDC, about 715,000 Americans each year suffer a heart attack, and 600,000 people die from heart disease – making heart disease responsible for 25% of all deaths in America.

Beaumont’s Heart and Vascular Center of Excellence offers a heart and vascular screening program called 7 for $70, which includes seven different tests administered by board-certified Beaumont physicians to help screen patients for warning signs of heart or vascular disease.

Beaumont’s 7 for $70 screening includes:

  • blood pressure test
  • body mass index (BMI)
  • blood cholesterol and hemoglobin A1c measurements
  • 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • stroke screening/carotid artery ultrasound
  • abdominal aortic aneurysm ultrasound
  • peripheral artery disease screening

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