Antioxidants and the risk of stroke.





Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Stroke
Professional Data: 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.1 All three of these causes (ischemia, infarction, or hemorrhage) would be due to cerebrovascular disease (disease related to the blood supply to the brain).

Hyperlipidemia and hypercholesterolemia (increased cholesterol and fats in the blood) are risk factors for the development of atherosclerosis, which increases the risks of both coronary heart disease and stroke. Another major risk factor for both ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke is cigarette smoking. Smokers have two to three times the risk of stroke compared with non-smokers and a fourfold to sixfold increase in stroke risk compared with those who have never smoked.2

A recent study published in the journal Neurology examined the role of dietary antioxidants in the risk of strokes. Dietary and health data was taken from 5,197 subjects that participated in the Rotterdam Study. These subjects were followed for an average of 6.4 years. The data showed that 227 strokes occurred in these participants. After analyzing dietary intake information, the researchers found that those who had a higher intake of antioxidants had a lower risk of stroke. In addition, vitamin C was associated with a decreased risk of stroke, particularly in smokers. Vitamin E intake also showed beneficial effects.3


1.Welty TE. Cerebrovascular Disease, In: Koda-Kimble MA, Young LY, eds. Applied Therapeutics. 5th ed. Vancouver, WA: 1992;14:1-7.
2. Donnan GA, McNeil JJ, Adena MA, et al. Smoking as a risk factor for cerebral ischemia. Lancet. 1989;II:643-647.
3. Voko Z. Dietary antioxidants and the risk of ischemic stroke. Neurology. Nov 2003;61:1273-5.