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Health Watch: Stroke Victims Susceptible to PTSD

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Peter Cornelis took up painting to help him focus afterhaving six strokes and brain surgery.

"You're always worried about having it happen again,"he says.

Peter now suffers from depression and anxiety. Doctors havediagnosed the 62 year old with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

"It's fear, anxiety stressful."

Now a new study from Columbia University Medical Center showsone in four people who survive a stroke suffer symptoms of post–traumaticstress disorder within the first year.

Previous research from Columbia also found that patients whosurvive a heart attack can develop PTSD.

Study author Dr. Ian Kronish says, "Patients have a lotof re–experiencing of the event which are things like having nightmares orflashbacks or just having lots of thoughts about having had the stroke thatthey don't really want to be having."

Stroke is a leading cause of death in the US and the topcause of disability. About 800–thousand people suffer a stroke each year.

Dr. Kronish says doctors need be on the lookout for signs ofdepression, anxiety and PTSD in their stroke patients so they can get thetreatment they need.

"For patients and their families if they are having alot of trouble coping with the stroke, for an type of reason bring it to theattention of the doctor."

It's been a long road for Peter.

He was paralyzed for a time after brain surgery and stillstruggles with headaches, memory and speech problems. He's getting help from apsychologist and medication.

Cornelis says, "Life is still good, life gets better,even with the symptoms of PTSD."

And he says painting has helped him focus on the positive.