Stroke Research: Isolation Increases Deadly Strokes
A new animal study has found that living together dramatically increases survival after strokes.
Male mice that lived with a female mouse survived a full week after a stroke, while only 40% of isolated males survived for a week.
In addition, more brain tissue was protected in males with female partners. Isolated males suffered four times more brain damage after a stroke than partnered mice.
There were also lower inflammatory responses in the males with partners.
One interesting result was higher levels of IL-6 or interleukin-6 in the brains of the partnered males. This cytokine serves as an anti-inflammatory in the brain, while paradoxically serving as a pro-inflammatory in the body periphery (Karelina K, Procedings National Academy of Sciences, March 2009).
The partnered male mice lived with females for two weeks before the stroke and continued living together afterwards.
Stroke Research: Symptoms Of A Mini-Stroke
Cerebrovascular strokes are so deadly because of their location and their speed. By the time people can get help, their brains are frequently permanently damaged.
Mini-strokes, or transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), are smaller, faster strokes. One of the dangers is that symptoms are gone by the time people get help which can lead to misdiagnosis.
A new study has identified three case history questions that have doubled the accuracy of mini-stroke diagnosis in the emergency room.
The most important question is lightning-fast speed of onset (a second or two) as differentiated from migraines which are noticeable for a minute or more during onset.
The other two case history areas help rule out mini-strokes. They include the presence of additional symptoms like lightheadedness, upset stomach, or chest tightness; and a previous history of examinations where mini-strokes have been ruled out.
Using these questions in ER has doubled the mini-stroke/TIA diagnosis accuracy from 40% to 79% (Prabhakaran S, online publication, Rush University Medical Center, Cerebrovascular Diseases December 2008).
Stroke Research: Health And Wealth
Between age 50 and 65 years old, people in America need wealth to reduce their risk of cerebrovascular strokes.
Wealth (all assets minus liabilities) was an independent risk factor for stroke. After excluding the ultra rich, people in the lowest wealth percentiles had three times the risk of stroke than those in the highest percentiles.
Education has usually been a significant factor in stroke risk reduction, but it was not a predictor of strokes in this study after adjusting for wealth and income.
Overall, people with lower wealth, income, and education were also associated with more high blood pressure, more overweight, more smoking, less physical activity, and more diabetes and heart disease. All of these are risk factors for increased stroke (Avendano M, Stroke disparities in older Americans: is wealth a more powerful indicator of risk than income and education? Stroke, May 2008).
Approximately 27% of all strokes occur before age 65, and 73% occur after age 65.
So, will wealth still protect you "when you're 64?"
Sorry, it seems that only genetics or a healthy lifestyle might help you after age 65.
Care for a cup of green tea?
Stroke Research: Strokes Double Alzheimer's Risk
Many diseases of aging seem to occur together. Two diseases that may be related are strokes and Alzheimer's disease. The risk of Alzheimer's is almost doubled in stroke patients.
Previous stroke research has shown that amyloid beta peptides associated with causing Alzheimer's disease are produced in greater amounts after a stroke. However, researchers could not discover a chemical pathway that might lead to reduction of the amyloid peptides.
Now, new research has shown that a pathway called p25/cdk5, where increased production of a peptide called p25 leads to increased activity of a molecule called cdk5, will lead to increased amyloid production. If this proves true, then targeting this pathway could reduce amyloid production and possibly the risk of developing Alzheimer's.
This research is preliminary. Future studies need to be done with people to determine if it can be used to prevent diseases (Wen Y, Transcriptional regulation of beta-secretase by p25/cdk5 leads to enhanced amyloidogenic processing, Neuron, March 2008).
Stroke Research: Ibuprofen, Stroke, And Synergy Revisited
A recent study showed positive synergy between ibuprofen, an over-the-counter painkiller and EGCG from green tea. Preliminary research showed that together they stopped 90% growth of prostate cancer cells, a result much greater than using each one alone.
Now a study shows negative synergy between ibuprofen and aspirin in the prevention of stroke, where ibuprofen totally cancels the stroke prevention benefits of taking aspirin.
Aspirin has been recommended to stroke patients to help reduce the risk of a second stroke. The anti-thrombotic or anti-clotting platelet effects of aspirin can last for 72-96 hours.
But that benefit can be neutralized when the stroke patients take ibuprofen for non-related pain.
A study from the University of Buffalo, New York, found a cohort of 28 stroke patients taking both ibuprofen and daily aspirin.
100% of them had no anti-clotting platelet benefit from the aspirin.
After 18 of the patients discontinued ibuprofen, the anti-clotting platelet activity of their daily aspirin returned to previous levels.
Unfortunately, 72% of patients taking both ibuprofen and aspirin experienced another ischemic or stroke event while taking both (Gengo FM, Effects of ibuprofen on the magnitude and duration of aspirin's inhibition of platelet aggregation: clinical consequences in stroke prophylaxis, Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, January 2008).
Both the researchers and the FDA warn that ibuprofen may make aspirin less effective but that more studies are needed.
Strokes are still the third largest killer in the United States. Here are the symptoms of a stroke.
Stroke Research: Preventing Strokes With Exercise
How's your cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF)?
If you're in the top 25% of CRF fitness, you may lower your risk of strokes up to 40% for men and 43% for women.
A new study examined over 60,000 people, age 18 to 100, who were part of the Cooper Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study in Dallas, Texas.
CRF fitness was measured using a treadmill to reach maximum aerobic capacity.
Data from 1970 to 2001 showed that high levels of fitness lowered the risk of stroke independent of smoking, body mass index (BMI), family history, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or alcohol intake (Hooker S, American Stroke Association International Conference, 2008).
Strokes are still the third leading cause of death in the United States, with over 780,000 strokes annually and over 150,000 deaths.
Every one should learn the warning signs of a stroke.
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This page was last updated by Sharon Jones on August 2, 2012.
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