Stroke Archive


Switching out just a serving of processed meats may boost cardiovascular health

A 2023 study suggests replacing a daily serving of processed meats with whole grains, nuts, or beans is associated with lower odds of cardiovascular conditions such as heart attack or stroke.

How well do you score on brain health?

Many efforts to improve health are also good for the brain. A study of nearly 400,000 people led researchers to develop a scorecard assessing 12 factors that contribute to the risk of dementia or stroke, making it easy to see where you're doing well and where you might do better.

Alert: This hidden condition increases heart attack and stroke risks

Metabolic syndrome is a constellation of interrelated health conditions that significantly increases the risk for heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and more. A diagnosis requires at least three of the following risk factors: obesity, high blood sugar, high triglycerides, low HDL (good) cholesterol, or high blood pressure. Metabolic syndrome can be reversed if it's recognized. Losing weight is central to reducing many of its features. Lowering elevated blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels also plays a major role in reducing the risk for heart disease and stroke.

Anti-obesity drug lowers heart-related problems

The weight-loss drug semaglutide is the first obesity treatment shown to help people live longer and have fewer cardiovascular problems. Developed as a drug for type 2 diabetes, semaglutide was first marketed as Ozempic; a higher-dose version for weight loss is called Wegovy. But because the drug is so popular, it can be hard to find, and it might not be covered by insurance.

The portfolio diet: A smart investment for your heart

The portfolio diet, which emphasizes foods rich in fiber and healthy fats, helps lower LDL cholesterol. A 2023 study suggests that the more closely people follow the diet, the lower their risk of cardiovascular disease. The diet discourages foods from animal sources and features foods from five main categories, including (1) plant protein such as legumes; (2) nuts and seeds; (3) foods rich in viscous fibers such as oatmeal, eggplant, and berries; (4) plant sterols such as phytosterol-enriched margarine; and (5) monounsaturated fats such as olive and canola oils.

The big problem of ministrokes

Many people who suffer a first-time stroke had a prior warning from a transient ischemic attack (TIA), also known as a ministroke. TIAs can last anywhere from 30 seconds to 20 minutes, although most usually last at least five minutes. TIAs usually have typical stroke symptoms, but because they are mild and brief they tend to be missed or ignored. People should seek immediate medical care after an attack.

Coated aspirin and regular aspirin: Similar benefits and risks

For preventing repeat heart attacks, coated aspirin is just as effective as regular aspirin, but it does not appear to provide extra protection against bleeding risk.

Marijuana use disorder may raise the risk of heart problems

Up to three in 10 people who use marijuana may be unable to stop using the drug, even when it has negative effects on their lives. A 2023 study links this problem— known as cannabis use disorder—to a higher risk of heart problems.

Prediabetes linked to higher risk of cardiovascular problems

Even slightly elevated blood sugar levels—a condition known as pre-diabetes—may raise the risk of cardiovascular problems. But attention to weight loss and greater use of medications to lower blood pressure and cholesterol appear to reduce the risk.

Harvard study: Even weekend warriors achieve heart benefits

A 2023 Harvard study found that regularly squeezing a week's worth of exercise (150 minutes) into just one or two days—a "weekend warrior" approach—is linked to the same heart-healthy benefits as daily exercise.

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