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Strokes and Their Prevention

Strokes and Their Prevention

Thursday, March 30th 2006

Nearly all of us know somebody who has had a stroke. Some are minor and some are fatal. Strokes have been all over the news recently. In 2004, Dick Clark, USA TV host, suffered a stroke, but was still able to make his New Year's Eve gig a few weeks later. But Ariel Sharon, former Prime Minister of Israel, didn't fare quite so well. The reason is that these men suffered different kinds of strokes, brought on by different causes, with very different outcomes.

Strokes have one thing in common: The blood supply gets cut off to a part of the brain. In ischemic strokes, by far the most common kind, one of the arteries in the neck or brain gets clogged by a clot. The other type, which is much more deadly, is called a hemorrhagic stroke, when one of the arteries delivering blood to the brain bursts.

How badly they affect you, depends on which part of and how much of your brain is affected. Strokes on the left side of the brain impact speaking and understanding language. The ones affecting the right side usually leave sufferers with conversation skills intact. The larger the affected area, the bigger the impact of the stroke.

Stroke Prevention

The best thing is to take steps to prevent all kinds of strokes, and pay special attention to any risk factors. One of the biggest risk factors for ischemic strokes is clogged arteries (atherosclerosis). High blood pressure can make you more prone to a hemorrhagic stroke.

Clogged arteries are usually clogged through elevated cholesterol. This can coat the insides of the arteries and make their pathways narrower. This makes it easier for dangerous blood clots to form, completely blocking the blood vessel. High blood pressure can weaken your artery walls, making them prone to burst open and leak blood into your brain.

The best thing you can do to prevent strokes of either kind is to get your cholesterol and blood pressure under control. There are a lot of natural ways to safely boost your blood flow and improve your overall cardiovascular health - and help protect yourself against strokes in the process.

Magnesium and CoQ10 Benefits

Coenzyme Q10 is great, particularly for people who've already suffered a stroke. CoQ10 can help improve your heart's overall functioning and regulate your heart beats.

Magnesium is the feel-good mineral for your circulatory system. Magnesium can relax your blood vessels, help reduce your blood pressure and even get an irregular heart beat back on track.

Nattokinase and Blood Clots

Nattokinase produces a prolonged action in two ways: it prevents coagulation of blood and it dissolves existing blood clots. Both the efficacy and the prolonged action of nattokinase can be determined by measuring levels of EFA (euglobulin fibrinolytic activity) and FDP (fibrin degradation products), which both become elevated as fibrin (which makes up part of a blood clot) is being dissolved. By measuring EFA and FDP levels, activity of nattokinase has been determined to last from 8 to 12 hours.

Dr. Martin Milner of the Centre for Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon and Dr. Kouhei Makise of the Imadeqawa Makise Clinica in Kyoto, Japan were able to launch a joint research project on nattokinase and write an extensive paper on their findings. "In all my years of research as a professor of cardiovascular and pulmonary medicine, nattokinase represents the most exciting new development in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular related diseases," Dr. Milner said. "We have finally found a potent natural agent that can thin and dissolve clots effectively, with relative safety and without side effects."

Nattokinase has many benefits including convenience of oral administration, confirmed efficacy, prolonged effects, cost effectiveness, and can be used preventatively.

Ginkgo Biloba

You can add Gingko Biloba to your list of beneficial supplements. This heart-helping herb has been the focus of lots of studies, shown to increase blood vessel health while it keeps blood clots from forming. Research indicates that Gingko Biloba does not cause excessive bleeding.

Fish Rich in Omega 3 Fatty Acids May Reduce Risk of Stroke

The net impact of fish consumption on the risk of stroke was estimated through analysis of existing research. Six studies which met the quality criteria were analyzed. Results found a substantial reduction in stroke risk associated with consumption of fish. Additional consumption of fish was estimated to increase the protective effects by 2.0 percent per serving per week.

Heart Failure and Vitamin B1 Deficiency

Among patients hospitalized with heart failure, about one in three has deficient levels of thiamine (vitamin B1), although it was less common among those patients who were taking vitamin supplements, according to a new study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Jan 17, 2006.

Mary E. Keith, Ph.D. from St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, said that heart failure may increase the body's need for certain nutrients, including thiamine, so even patients who are eating relatively well may not be getting enough. At the same time, the illness may make it harder to maintain a proper diet.

Deficiency in one dietary component, such as thiamine, is unlikely to occur in isolation and might be a marker for shortages of other micronutrients. Recent research suggests that targeted multi-micronutrient supplementation may improve quality of life and left ventricular function in elderly patients with heart failure, Dr. John Cleland F.A.C.C. from the University of Hull in Hull, U.K.

Heart Benefits From Low Calorie Balanced Diet

Eating a very low-calorie yet nutritionally balanced diet is good for your heart. Studying heart function in members of an organization called the Caloric Restriction Society, investigators at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that their hearts functioned like the hearts of much younger people. The researchers report their findings in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Jan 17, 2006.

Ultrasound examinations showed that the hearts of people on calorie restriction appeared more elastic than those of age and gender-matched control subjects. Their hearts were able to relax between beats in a way similar to the hearts in younger people. A healthy diet and regular exercise can reduce risks from secondary aging. But this study suggests calorie restriction with optimal nutrition can do even more.

Caloric restriction tends to resemble a traditional Mediterranean diet, which includes a wide variety of vegetables, olive oil, beans, whole grains, fish and fruit. The diet avoids refined and processed foods, soft drinks, desserts, white bread and other sources of so-called "empty" calories.

Coffee Limits Blood Flow to Heart Muscle During Exercise

In healthy volunteers, the equivalent of two cups of coffee reduced the body's ability to boost blood flow to the heart muscle in response to exercise according to a new study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Jan 17, 2006.

"Whenever we do physical exercise, myocardial blood flow has to increase in order to match the increased need of oxygen. We found that caffeine may adversely affect this mechanism. It partly blunts the needed increase in flow," said Philipp A. Kaufmann, M.D., F.A.C.C., from the University Hospital Zurich and Centre for Integrative Human Physiology CIHP in Zurich.

Blood flow normally increases in response to exercise, and results indicate that caffeine reduces the body's ability to boost blood flow to the muscle of the heart on demand.

Daily Fruit and Vegetables Can Reduce Stroke Risk

Encouraging people to consume more than five portions of fruit and vegetable a day should result in a major reduction in stroke, according to a meta-analysis in The Lancet.

Feng He (St. George's, University of London, UK) and colleagues pooled data from eight studies on fruit and vegetable consumption and stroke risk, involving over 257,500 people from Europe, Japan, and the USA. The analysis revealed that compared with individuals who have less than three to five servings per day had an 11 percent reduction in the incidence of stroke, while those with more than five servings per day had a relative reduction of 26 percent.

Reproduced unabridged from the April - June 2006 issue of Health and Herbal News, with the kind permission of Health and Herbs International Ltd.

Footnote from Ideal Health:

The following products are all useful for Stroke Prevention :

AlphaProtect
ENADA
Es-Sense
Enzymedica Natto-K
Hi Strength Liquid Fish Oil
Garlicin HC
Heartcare
Heartnurse
Seleno Met
Superior Magnesium

Related health information can be found here:

Antioxidants
Blood Clots
Blood pressure and hypertension
Cayenne to strengthen the circulation, equalise blood pressure, arrest bleeding & assist with colds
Circulatory Problems
Co-enzyme Q10 is of fundamental importance for cellular energetics
Co-Q Max to assist with cardiovascular and immune health
Magnesium
Heart Problems
Stroke

Related articles can be found here:

CoQ10 and Heart Health
Estrogen-Progestin Associated With Increased Risk of Stroke and Dementia
Healthy Heart and Circulatory System
Higher Fruit, Vegetable Intake Associated With Lower Stroke Risk
Nattokinase and Improved Circulation
Stroke Risk Increased in Hypertensive Women Using HRT
Vitamin B100
Year Round Healthy Circulation With Garlicin HC

If you need help or advice, you are welcome to email our naturopathic team with your health question.

Disclaimer: The health information presented here has been written for the New Zealand health consumer. It is of a general nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subjects covered. The information is not intended to be comprehensive or to provide medical advice to you. While all care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility or liability is accepted, and no person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the information provided. All health ailments should be treated by a qualified health professional.

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