Stroke Patients Should Not Rely on Vitamin B to Protect Against Second Occurrence

People who have had a stroke and have been taking Vitamin B supplements to guard against a subsequent occurrence or a heart attack may not be protected, if the results of a new study are accurate.

Earlier medical studies had found that elevated levels of homocysteine in the bloodstream increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Taking Vitamin B supplements lowers the level of this amino acid was thought to lower the risk of this type of health issue.

Dr. Graeme J. Hankey, of the Royal Perth Hospital in Western Australia, has stated that while taking Vitamin B supplements is safe, it doesn’t lower an individual’s risk of heart attack and stroke.

Dr. Hankey’s study involved 8,164 participants who were divided into two groups. One group was given Vitamin B supplements, while the other was given a placebo. The study participants were followed for over three years. During that time, 15 percent of the patients taking Vitamin B had a second stroke and 17 percent of those issued the placebo also had one.

How to Lower the Risk of Stroke

Making lifestyle changes can help to lower the risk of stroke. Eating a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables is one way to do so. Whole grain products, including breads, cereals and brown rice, are also good choices. Not only do they help to lower cholesterol levels, but they contain fiber that helps to keep one feeling full for a longer time, which may make it easier to resist the temptation to eat between meals.

Meat, fish and poultry can also be included in a healthy eating plan. Making a point of eating fish like herring, salmon and trout a couple of times a week is a good choice, since they contain omega-3 fatty acids that help to lower the risk of coronary issues.

Dairy products that are low in fat are better choices than those made with whole milk. Low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese are tasty foods that can form part of a healthy eating plan.

Prepared foods can contain a high amount of sodium and should be limited if the goal is to lower the risk of stroke. Instead of adding salt during cooking or at the table, a better choice is to experiment with herbs and spices to add flavor. Keep in mind that the recommended daily salt intake is approximately one teaspoon and many foods contain a much higher level than that.

Smoking will definitely increase the likelihood of having a stroke. It can be a difficult habit to break, but there is help available. Talk to a doctor or pharmacist about treatment options.

Lower Your Risk of Stroke by Eating More Fruits and Vegetables

Loading up your shopping cart with fresh fruits and vegetables isn’t just a low-calorie option; it can also help to lower your risk of stroke.

Researchers at the University of London examined the results of multiple studies involving 250,000 people. The results indicated that eating five servings of fruits and vegetables daily reduced the risk of stroke by 25 percent.

Another group of scientists from the University of Cambridge have done work on the link between the levels of Vitamin C in the blood and the likelihood of having a stroke. The results of this study found that people with a higher level of Vitamin C reduced their chance of having a stroke by 42 percent.
fruit and vegetable diet photo
Vitamin C is found in a number of fruits and vegetables. To get your daily requirement, choose foods like apples, oranges, grapefruits, cherries,and berries. Potatoes are also a source of Vitamin C. Fill your plate with broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, tomatoes, kiwi fruits, and green peppers as well. Green, leafy vegetables are also rich in this important nutrient.

How Much is a Serving?

It can be confusing to figure out what constitutes a serving of fruits and vegetables. Generally speaking, if something fits in your hand, it’s considered a serving. One medium-sized apple, a banana, or a handful of grapes all fit the bill.

One-half cup of berries is also a serving. For salad greens, a cup is a serving. Fruit and vegetable juices also count toward your recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables, and every time you drink a half cup, you can add another serving for that day.

Going for a Brisk Walk Lowers Stroke Risk

If you want to lower your risk of having a stroke, put on your shoes and get moving. The Harvard School of Public Health conducted a study where researchers examined the exercise records of 39,315 women working in the health care industry. The results were very interesting:

  • The participants who walked for at least two hours each week lowered their risk of stroke by 30 percent.
  • Hitting the pavement at a rate of three miles per hour or higher meant that the likelihood of having a stroke dropped by 37 percent.

Walking is a great way to get (and stay) in shape. It’s an inexpensive option; all a person needs to get started is a sturdy pair of shoes. Getting some fresh air during a walk helps to improve one’s mood, too, since it releases the body’s “feel good” hormones – endorphins.

Other Exercise Options

Walking is not the only way to get active and lower your risk of having a stroke, though. Here are some other exercise options to consider:

  • Biking
  • Dancing
  • Jogging
  • Running
  • Squash/Racquetball
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Using Exercise Machines
  • Walking

Why Be Concerned About Stroke?

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States. It’s also the leading cause of disability in that country.

Risk Factors for Stroke

Lack of physical activity is one of the leading causes of stroke. Women need to be aware of other risk factors that may affect them, which include:

  • Migraine Headaches
  • Obesity
  • Oral Contraceptives
  • Smoking

Women who choose Hormone Replacement Therapy are also at increased risk of stroke. Before starting treatment, menopausal women should discuss whether the benefits outweigh the risks. If a woman decides that this is the right choice for her, she can make a point of being physically active on a regular basis to stay healthy.

Job Loss Increases Risk of Heart Disease

People who have been laid off from their job have a lot of things to worry about, and the results of a 2006 study conducted by a group of epidemiologists at Yale University found that when older workers join the ranks of the unemployed, their risk of heart attack and serious stroke doubled. Chronic stress is to blame for the health issues, as well as unhealthy lifestyle choices that can result when someone is faced with a layoff.

Stress resulting from a negative life event, such as a job loss, can trigger a heart attack in some people. Chemicals released into the body when it is under acute stress are to blame in that situation. Worry about financial issues in the short term and whether the individual will be able to find work again can cause the person to experience chest pain and other symptoms associated with a heart attack.

Smoking and Job Loss Related

A person who has recently lost his or her job may be more likely to smoke or to take up the habit again.cardiovascular strain photo They see this activity as a way to reduce stress, when the opposite is true. People who smoke report feeling more stressed out than non-smokers.

When people who try to quit smoking report feeling stressful, they may not realize that the jittery feelings they are experiencing are due to nicotine withdrawal. If they give in to the craving and light up again, they are getting a “hit” of nicotine and other chemicals that they need to feel normal. This doesn’t do anything to provide the smoker with relief from the stressors in his or her life, though.

Layoffs Lead to Poor Health Decisions

Unemployment, and the financial pressures associated with it, can also lead to other decisions that can affect heart health. If funds are limited, a person may be eating processed foods more often as a way to cut back on grocery bills, as opposed to choosing fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean meats as part of their diet.

A gym membership may be canceled as a cost-cutting measure in times of unemployment. Getting regular exercise can be a great stress reliever. If keeping a gym membership is too costly when going through a job loss, then substitute going for a brisk walk instead or look into community fitness programs that may be available at a lower cost.

Blood Protein Not Effective as Predictor of Stroke

The presence of a protein found in the blood indicates that a person is at risk for a heart attack, but is not a good way to predict the likelihood they will have a stroke. High levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker for inflammation, may indicate that a heart attack is likely, but the same doesn’t hold true when it comes to predicting the likelihood of a stroke.

Researchers followed 2,240 people in New York. All of them were over the age of 40 and stroke free. The study tracked them for eight years. During that time, participants with a CRP level higher than 3 mg/L of blood were 70 percent more likely to have a heart attack and (at a 55 percent higher risk of dying as a result) than those people who had a CRP level of 1 mg/L or less.

FDA Investigating Link Between Heart Attack, Asthma Medication

The asthma drug Xolair has been linked to heart failure, blood clots, stroke, heart enlargement and cardiac arrhythmias. The Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday that it will be assessing the preliminary results to determine whether “further regulatory actions are necessary to protect patients.”

The medication has been approved for use by children over the age of 12 and adults who have asthma that is complicated by severe allergies. The issue of a possible connection between the drug and heart ailments came to light as the result of a trial involving 5,000 people taking Xolair and 2,500 participants who were not using the drug.

In 2007, the manufacturer or Xolair, Genentech, was ordered to include a “black box warning” on the packaging to advise patients that the drug may cause potentially fatal anaphylactic reactions. Genetech made $517 million on the sale of Xolair in 2008.

8 Symptoms of Diabetes You Shouldn’t Ignore

Type 2 Diabetes is a chronic health condition affecting more than 16 million Americans. A person with this disorder has a higher-than-normal level of blood glucose. Glucose levels are elevated because the person’s body doesn’t produce enough insulin, the substance needed to convert glucose into energy. Glucose levels stay high, while the cells that need it can’t the the nutrition they need. People who have diabetes are at increased risk for heart attack and stroke.

Here are 8 symptoms of Type II diabetes that you shouldn’t ignore:

  1. Blurred vision
  2. Cuts that don’t heal
  3. Dry mouth
  4. Excessive thirst
  5. Increased urination
  6. Itchy skin
  7. Pain in the lower extremities
  8. Yeast infections

If you have any of these symptoms, make an appointment to see your doctor. They may be caused by something other than Type II diabetes, but your doctor is the one who can tell you for sure.

Plavix and Heartburn Meds Dangerous Combination

If you are taking Plavix, an anti-clotting medication, you need to know that drugs prescribed to treat heartburn, known as proton-pump inhibitors, may be dangerous to your health. These medications, which include Nexium and Prilosec, can actually increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.

This presents a problem for patients, since their doctor may prescribe a proton-pump inhibitor to lower the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding that is a side effect of taking Plavix. This combination of medications appears to stop patients from reaping the benefits of taking Plavix in the first place, which is to lower the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Several lawsuits have been started alleging that Bristol-Myers and Sanofi Aventis, who manufacture Plavix, failed to warn the public about side effects that may increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, ulcers, and thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpora, a blood disorder.

Blame Your Genes for Stroke Risk

Your risk of having a stroke or developing early onset coronary artery disease may be genetic. Scientists at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston have discovered a single gene defect that causes these two health issues, as well as thoracic aortic aneurysms, ischemic stroke, and Moyamoya disease (a rare disorder affecting the cartoid arteries in the brain).

If someone has the mutated ACTA2 gene, then vascular screening tests can be ordered. Early diagnosis means that appropriate treatment can be started to lower the risk of disability or death. Family history is only one of the risk factors for coronary disease, and your lifestyle choices can help to reduce it.

Here are the basics you need to remember:

  • Don’t smoke.
  • Eat a balanced diet that is low in saturated fat.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Find a way to fight stress.
  • Have your blood pressure checked regularly.

Work Addiction and Heart Disease

Work addiction is often disguised as working hard or trying to hang onto one’s job. With companies laying off workers in mass numbers, those people who are left are expected to pick up the slack and be even more productive. Most people who are workaholics won’t admit it, even to themselves.

When you get to the point where work is something that you focus on constantly, even during your off hours and you can’t relax when you are off the job, you may be living with a work addiction. Some workaholics even get stressed out when they are supposed to be on vacation because they are away from work.

This kind of stress means that you are at increased risk for heart disease, a heart attack, or a stroke. Treatment is available for this type of behavior; ask your doctor for a referral to a therapist.