This was my first time attending Scientific Sessions in New Orleans. It was a great experience from spending time in the Technology Hall with all the exhibits, simulations and posters. I also got to attend several sessions at the conference. The session that I enjoyed the most was the opening session specially when Dr. Houser, President of AHA/ASA shared his personal journey as a heart failure researcher.
Dr. Houser’s father was a World War II vet and he was also a very heavy smoker. In his early 40s, he had an episode of chest pain which he thought was a chest cold and did not seek medical attention. Several years later he was diagnosed with heart failure. He passed away shortly after this diagnosis. Dr. Houser was a graduate student at that time studying neurosciences and his father’s illness changed the direction of his research career.
His story reminded me of my personal journey from 1998 when I was in 10th grade to now. This story includes my paternal grandmother who we all used to call “Dado”. Dado used to live with us while we were growing up. She became a single parent early in life due to untimely death of my grandfather from heart disease. She raised 8 children mostly by herself. She was very proud of her 8 children and was a great influence on all the grandchildren.
She had chronic HTN, Type 2 DM and high cholesterol for which she would take medicines. One day in January 1998, she would not wake up in the morning. When I went in to check on her, she would open her eyes, look at me all confused & could not get any word out. I went and told my mother who went to check on her and knew something was not right. My mother called the ambulance and Dado was taken to the hospital. My father met us at the hospital. She had a CT head and then was admitted to the ICU. We were told that she has had a “Brain Infarction”. Not knowing what that meant, I looked up “Brain Infarction” in World Book Encyclopedia when I got home. She remained weak on one side and could not talk or interact due to the stroke and passed away 18 days later.
Yesterday, Kelly Myers, on behalf of the Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH) Foundation, presented data concerning an intriguing project. The database they maintain includes characteristics and parameters on a huge number of patients reporting any cardiovascular problem. From this pool of data, they’re able to assign a probability that a patient suffers from FH. The foundation then collaborates with physicians in key areas to identify and treat this illness, which can be quite difficult to recognize before patients experience negative outcomes that herald the disease.
12 years later in 2010, I started neurology residency at UAB. With every stroke patient that I would evaluate and treat, my interest and passion for stroke would increase. Many times while evaluating stroke patients in the ER, Dado’s image would flash in front of my eyes in her helpless state. To this day, Dado continues to be my motivation. A motivation to better understand stroke and to provide better care to the patients so their outcome is better than Dado’s.
Muhammad Alvi, MD
Assistant Professor Neurology, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV
Mud Alvi is an Assistant Professor of Neurology at West Virginia University. His research interest includes Cerebral Small Vessel Disease and its association with Stroke and Dementia. He tweets @wvstrokedoc