Folate and risk of Stroke.





Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Folic Acid Stroke
Professional Data: Folic Acid 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. A famous heart study, the Framingham study, reported that there is a direct link between increased blood pressure and stroke risk.1 Other 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.

A recent study, using data from NHANES, found that low levels of folate could increase the risk of stroke. Participants included 9,764 men and women who were free from cardiovascular disease at the beginning of the study. The ages of these individuals ranged from 25 to 74 years and their dietary intake of folate was assessed at baseline. On an average follow up of 19 years, stoke occurred in 926 patients and cardiovascular disease (CVD) occurred in over 3,700. After adjustments for CVD and dietary risk factors, these results showed that those who suffered stoke or CVD has lower levels of folate compared to those who did not suffer from these conditions. In conclusion, the authors stated that increasing the intake of dietary folate may aid in the prevention in CVD in the United States.2


1. Bronner LL, Kanter DS, Manson JE. Primary Prevention of Stroke. N Engl J Med. 1995;333:1392-1400.
2. Bazzano LA, et al. Dietary Intake of Folate and Risk of Stroke in US Men and Women. Stroke. May 2002;33:1183.