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.

Anxiety Disorder May Increase Risk of Heart Attack, Stroke

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), a psychological disorder characterized by excessive worry about everyday events. People living with it experience a level of discomfort that is out of proportion for the cause of concern. If you have been diagnosed with GAD, you are in good company; over six million people in the United States have it. You also may be at a higher risk of having a heart attack or a stroke.

Patients with stable Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), where the symptoms of chest pain are relieved within 10 minutes with rest and/or medications, and GAD are more likely to have a cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or a stroke.

Why are anxiety disorders and cardiovascular disease related? People with anxiety issues are less likely to be taking good care of themselves. They are less likely to be eating or sleeping well, and they are more likely to be smokers. Individuals with anxiety issues are also less likely to be exercising regularly. All of these factors increase a person’s risk of developing heart disease.

blood pressure measurement Stress also plays a role in a person’s risk of developing heart disease, and someone living with GAD is experiencing a higher level of stress than a person who doesn’t have the disorder. As a result, he or she may have higher blood pressure, as well as an increased heart rate. Both of these factors contribute to heart issues.

For study conducted by the San Francisco VA Medical Center, researchers decided to focus on 1,015 participants who had been diagnosed with CAD for over five years. The study subjects underwent psychological testing to determine whether they had GAD.

The results of the study fond that 9.6 of the study subjects who had GAD had a cardiac event, compared with 6.6 of the participants who did not have this psychological issue. GAD can be treated with anti-anxiety medications and psychotherapy. If you suspect that you have an anxiety disorder or are concerned about a loved one, see your family doctor for a referral to a professional who can provide a diagnosis and suggest at treatment plan.

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.

Eating Dark Chocolate Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

If the Easter Bunny dropped off some chocolate treats for you this past weekend, don’t worry about indulging in this most crave-worthy food.

The results of a German study indicate that eating the sweet stuff may help to lower the risk of developing heart disease.

The study followed approximately 20,000 participants between the ages of 35-65. Each person’s blood pressure was checked, and their height and weight were noted. They were also asked to complete a questionnaire with questions about their health.

Questions About Chocolate

The study participants were asked how often they ate a 50 gram bar of chocolate. The entire group of participants weren’t asked whether they usually ate milk chocolate, dark chocolate or white chocolate, but a smaller sampling of 1,568 participants were asked to write down their chocolate intake over a 24-hour period.

Milk chocolate was the most popular choice, with 57 percent choosing this type. Dark chocolate lovers accounted for 24 percent of the sample and white chocolate was consumed by 2 percent of the smaller group.

Every two or three years, the participants were sent a follow-up survey. The participants were asked whether they had experienced a heart attack or a stroke. Death certificates for participants who had died were examined to gather information about the cause of death.

Chocolate Good for Your Heart

The results of the study were published in the European Heart Journal and revealed that the participants who ate 7.5 grams of chocolate per day had a lower risk of having a heart attack or a stroke than the participants who didn’t eat chocolate regularly.

The magic ingredient in chocolate that offers this health benefit is the flavanols in cocoa.  Dark chocolate has a higher concentration of this substance, and is more effective at increasing the amount of nitric oxide in the walls of the blood vessels. Dr. Brian Buijsse of the German Institute of Human Nutrition explained, “Nitric oxide is a gas that, once released, causes the smooth muscle cells of the blood vessels to relax and widen; this may contribute to lower blood pressure. Nitric oxide also improves platelet function, making the blood less sticky.”

Whatever the reason, eating a couple of squares of dark chocolate per day is good for your heart. Just be sure to watch your intake so that you don’t gain weight while trying to lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.

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.

Sunshine Vitamin Cuts Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

The results of a new study have revealed that having a high level of Vitamin D in the body lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke. Having a very low level of the Sunshine Vitamin in your system increases your risk of heart failure.

The study, conducted by Heart Institute at Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City, followed 27,686 people who were 50 or older with no history of cardiovascular disease. Each person’s Vitamin D levels were tested and they were divided into groups based on whether their Vitamin D levels were normal, low or very low.

Participants with very low Vitamin D levels were over 75 percent more likely to die, 78 percent more likely to have a stroke, and 45 percent more likely to develop coronary artery disease than people with a normal level (higher than 30 ng/mL) in their system.

Heart Disease Statistics Sobering

New research released by Donald Lloyd-Jones from Northwestern University offers predictions about the likelihood of a 40-year-old developing certain medical conditions during their lifetime, and the numbers are astonishing. Here’s the rundown:

  • A man has a 1 in 2 chance of developing coronary heart disease. For women, the odds are 1 in 3.
  • The chance of having a stroke are the same for both genders at 1 in 5.
  • One in eight men will have sudden cardiac death, which is defined as death from coronary heart disease within 60 minutes of the onset of symptoms. The most common cause of death is a heart attack, but this category also includes infections, valve disease and irregular heartbeat. Women have a 1 in 24 chance of dying in this manner.
  • The odds of getting lung cancer are 1 in 12 for men and 1 in 17 for women.

What Are Triglycerides?

Triglycerides are deposits of fat that are present in the body and they are linked to the amount of carbohydrates you are eating. When you consume carbohydrates (bread, pasta, cereals, fruits and vegetables) your body uses them to make glucose, which is food for your cells. They take what they need, and any excess glucose goes to your liver, where it is converted into glycogen.

Glycogen is stored in the muscles. Once the muscles have enough glycogen, any excess is sent back to the liver again, where it is stored as triglycerides (also known as fat).

The body has an unlimited capacity for storing triglycerides, and some of them will end up in your bloodstream. A high amount of triglycerides makes the blood thicker. Thickened blood is more likely to clot or cause blockages, which can cause a heart attack or a stroke.

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.