Advances in stroke prevention.




Curr Atheroscler Rep

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Consumer Data: Folic Acid Omega-3 Fatty Acids Stroke
Professional Data: Folic Acid Omega-3 Fatty Acids Stroke


The term "stroke" or "paralytic stroke" is commonly used to describe a sudden problem with the brain that is usually related to its blood supply. A "stroke," therefore, can be due to ischemia (decreased blood supply), infarction (interrupted blood supply), or hemorrhage (severe bleeding), and usually means that there is some kind of permanent problem with the nervous system. All three of these causes (ischemia, infarction, or hemorrhage) would be due to cerebrovascular disease (disease related to the blood supply to the brain). While many risk factors have been identified that increases a person's risk for stroke, hypertension (high blood pressure), is by far, the greatest.

Hypertension has been identified as a factor in 70 percent of all strokes. Groups considered at higher risk for stroke include those with sickle cell disease, and middle-aged male patients with a history of stroke on their mother's side of the family. Patients with increased blood thickness are also considered at higher risk for stroke. On average, someone in the U.S. suffers a stroke every 53 seconds, and every 3.3 minutes, someone dies from a stroke.1 Symptoms of an occurring stroke are numbness or weakness in the face, arms, or legs (usually only on one side of the body), confusion, severe headache, decreased vision, and dizziness.

A recent review published in the journal Current Atherosclerosis Reports examined new approaches to preventing stroke. Particular modern advances in the prevention of stroke involve regulation of hypertension in diabetics, prevention of type 2 diabetes through lifestyle adjustments, physical exercise, and control of weight. New findings have suggested that a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and omega-3 fatty acids, along with reductions in alcohol intake also help to prevent stroke. In addition, supplementation with vitamin B12, B6, and folic acid in patients with elevated plasma homocysteine levels have been suggested to be beneficial. For high-risk patients of coronary heat disease and diabetes, use of the drug ramipril is advised. Currently, new investigations are exploring the role of chronic inflammation and infection in the risk of stroke. This may lead to findings that can be applied to further reduce the risk of stroke.2


1. American Heart Association Statistical Update, 2001.
2. Jeerakathil TJ. Prevention of strokes. Curr Atheroscler Rep. Jul 2001;3(4):321-7.