Tuesday, April 12, 2005

How to protect yourself from a stroke

Natural antioxidants protect brain from stroke damage

The May 2005 issue of the journal Experimental Neurology revealed that antioxidants present in vegetables and fruit help protect the brain from damage incurred by stroke or other neurologic disorders.

Researchers at the University of South Florida College of Medicine and the James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital in Tampa led by neuroscientist Paula Bickford PhD fed rats diets supplemented with blueberries, spinach, the algae spirulina, or unenhanced diets. Earlier research conducted at USF had determined that consuming these foods could reverse the age-related decline in mental function in older rats.

After a month on the diets, ischemic strokes were induced in the animals, followed by return of blood flow one hour later. Greater post-stroke movement was exhibited by the animals who received supplemented diets than by those whose diets were not supplemented. When the brains of the animals were examined, it was found that rats who had received supplemented diets had areas of damage that were half the size of those of the untreated animals. Rats who received spirulina apparently experienced the greatest amount of protection, with lesions that were three-quarters smaller than those observed in the rats who did not receive supplemented diets.

The high antioxidant content of blueberries, spinach and spirulina may counteract the free radicals produced during ischemic stroke that damage the brain. These foods also contain anti-inflammatory substances that lower the amount of inflammation and resultant nerve cell injury normally caused by stroke. Dr Bickford commented, "I was amazed at the extent of neuroprotection these antioxidant-rich diets provided. The clinical implication is that increasing fruit and vegetable consumption may make a difference in the severity of a stroke. It could be a readily available, inexpensive and relatively safe way to benefit stroke patients."

A new paradigm for stroke prevention

by William Davis, MD, FACC

Reducing stroke risk by reversing carotid and aortic plaque is becoming an everyday reality, as more and better tools become available to us. To determine your own stroke risk, the best and most widely available imaging tool is carotid ultrasound, which aims to identify carotid plaque or intima-media thickness of more than 1.0 mm. Any degree of calcification of the aorta, such as that indicated by a CT heart scan, is another useful measure of risk. A prior transient ischemic attack, or “mini-stroke,” also puts you at heightened risk for future stroke.

Treatment to reduce risk is multifaceted and should examine all sources of risk, such as metabolic syndrome and levels of small LDL, lipoprotein(a), and C-reactive protein. Fish oil is the one crucial ingredient in any stroke-prevention program. Other supplements can be used in a targeted fashion, depending on the sources of carotid or aortic plaque. Ideally, repeat scanning of the carotids should be performed some years after beginning your treatment program to assess whether you have successfully reversed plaque growth.

Comments: Thanks to LifeExtension News for this new information.


Christopher Wiechert's Healthblogger is for educational or informational purposes only, and is not intended to diagnose or provide treatment for any condition. If you have any concerns about your own health, you should always consult with a healthcare professional.