Stroke Archive

Articles

The facts on fat and heart health

Dietary fat can both help and hurt heart health, depending on the source. Eating adequate amounts of the "good" fats—monounsaturated and polyunsaturated—can help reduce cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure. "Bad" saturated fat found in many processed foods can have the opposite effect. Following heart-healthy diets like the Mediterranean and DASH diets and making small substitutions in daily eating habits can ensure people get the proper amounts of good fats.

Drinking coffee and tea linked to lower stroke risk

People who sip several daily cups of both coffee and tea may be less likely to have a stroke than people who don’t drink either beverage.

How stimulants may affect your heart

Stimulant medications, which are usually prescribed to treat attention deficit disorder in children, are being prescribed increasingly to older adults. These drugs may cause a short-term spike in the risk of heart-related problems, including heart attacks, strokes, and arrhythmias. Dietary supplements that promise weight loss or better physical or mental performance may contain prohibited, unlisted, and potentially dangerous stimulants.

Is there such a thing as a silent stroke?

It is possible to experience a stroke without symptoms. Addressing cardiovascular risk factors can help lower the risk.

Exercise may heal the heart as well as prevent future problems

Exercise may help to reverse some types of heart damage. Not only can workouts prevent heart problems, but it may help to improve conditions that may raise risk for cardiovascular events. A 2021 study, for example, showed that a yearlong exercise program helped improve heart health in people who were at increased risk for heart failure.

Gum disease and heart health: Probing the link

About two-thirds of people over 65 have periodontal disease, which is linked to a higher risk of heart disease. Shared risk factors such as smoking and an unhealthy diet may explain the association, but bacteria and inflammation could be a common thread. The bacteria responsible for periodontal disease can travel to blood vessels throughout the body and have been found in the fatty debris (atherosclerosis) that clogs arteries located far from the mouth—and in blood clots from people who have experienced heart attacks.

What’s the best blood pressure target for older adults?

For people over 60, aiming for a blood pressure target below 130/80 mm Hg may prevent more cardiovascular problems than aiming for the higher target suggested by some physicians. Some feared that the more intensive treatment required to reach the lower target might cause more adverse side effects (such as dizziness and falls) in older people. But side effects do not appear to differ among people taking intensive versus standard therapy.

Salt substitute associated with lower rates of stroke, death

A large study published online Aug. 29, 2021, by The New England Journal of Medicine found that people who used a salt substitute on their food had a lower risk of stroke, heart attack, and early death, compared with people who used regular salt.

Saturated fat and low-carb diets: Still more to learn?

Low-carbohydrate diets have been popular for many years, but due to the high amounts of saturated fat, doctors and nutritionists worry about possible increased risk of cardiovascular disease. A study comparing three diets found that eating a high-fat diet did not necessarily raise heart risk, but the types and quantities of food make a difference.

Switching to a salt substitute may reduce stroke risk

Swapping regular table salt (sodium chloride) with a salt substitute containing some potassium chloride may lower the risk of strokes and related heart problems.

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