Volume 96, Issue 69
Friday, January 31, 2003

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A stroke of literary genius

By Liz Donaldson
Gazette Writer

A Western father and daughter team have joined literary forces on a book about strokes.

Vladamir Hachinski, professor of clinical neurological sciences at Western, and his daughter Larissa Hachinski, a Western graduate of oral history, have collaborated on a book to inform Canadians about strokes.

The book, entitled Stroke: a comprehensive guide to brain attacks, is the newest installment in the Canadian Medical Association's Your Personal Health Series, and according to the CMA's Web site, the books are designed to provide the public with expert information on a variety of health concerns.

According to Vladamir, the collaboration with his daughter was natural. Larissa has written numerous magazine articles and biographies for the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in London.

Larissa said she personally interviewed her father for the book, as well as a number of his colleagues in neurological science. Many patients were also questioned to offer a more user-friendly approach, she explained.

"Heart disease and stroke is the number 1 killer of Canadians, but the most disappointing part is that half of all cases are preventable," Vladamir said. "Early prevention and knowledge of the signs of stroke are crucial in avoiding long-term damage."

"This is not a condition that only affects middle-aged men. Young people and especially women are also significantly at risk," Larissa said. Women were found to be two and a half times more likely to die from a stroke than breast cancer, she said.

Although the causes of stroke amongst those under 45-years-old are varied, Vladamir noted amphetamines – cocaine specifically – as specific contributors.

"Over the counter cold medicines are even known to be linked," Vladamir said, while noting this risk was a non-issue for most people.

Neck injuries, as a result of sports and other recreational activities, are also something to be cautious of, Vladamir explained.

"For those women who smoke and are currently on the birth control pill, the risk is significantly increased," Larissa said, noting this fact may be of some importance to female students at Western.

Both Vladamir and Larissa consider the book to be a very useful introduction to the topic of stroke, a condition, they said, most people know very little about.

The fact that the collaboration remained in the family made the process all the more worthwhile, Larissa added.

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2002 THE GAZETTE