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Stroke Archive


Sleep problems may increase the risk of heart attack and stroke

Updated July 1, 2013

If you toss and turn at night or rattle the windows with your snores, you may be headed for heart trouble.

Sleep, Shakespeare knew, is the chief nourisher in life's feast. Without restful sleep, your heart health deteriorates.

Take a walk, reduce your risk of suffering a stroke

Updated July 1, 2013

Women who walk every week are less likely to have a stroke than women who don't.

Here's another reason to start walking: recent research shows that women who walk at least three hours a week have a 43% lower stroke risk compared with women who are inactive. Women walkers also have a lower stroke risk than women who do other high-intensity exercise. "Walking is a more consistent, gradual training program, as opposed to high-intensity exercise that can result in sudden increases in blood pressure, which can be dangerous," says Dr. Michael R. Jaff, chair of the Institute for Heart, Vascular and Stroke Care at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.

How to cope with the neurologist shortage

Updated July 1, 2013

The demand for neurologists is growing faster than the supply. The result is that there are very long wait times to see a neurologist, especially for chronic diseases like dementia, and there are huge shortages of specialists to treat people with stroke.

7 things you can do to prevent a stroke

Updated May 15, 2022

Aging and a family history can increase the risk for a stroke, but women can lower it by managing factors that are under their control-such as diet, exercise, blood pressure, smoking, and diabetes.

Research We're Watching: Tai chi prevents falls after a stroke

Updated May 1, 2013

After a stroke, movement and balance become more difficult. That's why people who've had a stroke fall seven times more often than healthy adults. A study presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference in February found that tai chi, a form of Chinese martial art that combines movement and deep breathing, can reduce falls in stroke survivors.

The study enrolled 89 people who'd had a stroke—nearly half of them women—and randomly assigned them to one of three groups: usual care, a senior-targeted fitness program, or a one-hour tai chi class three times a week.

Research We're Watching: Calcium could harm women's hearts

Updated May 1, 2013

Getting too much calcium, particularly by adding supplements to calcium in your diet, could be risky, according to a study published in the February BMJ. Researchers in Sweden followed a group of more than 61,000 women for two decades. The women filled out dietary questionnaires, and based on their responses, the researchers assessed how much calcium the participants got from diet and supplements. Women who took more than 1,400 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day from diet and supplements were at higher risk of death from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and ischemic heart disease (when the heart muscle doesn't get enough oxygen). The increase in risk for women who consumed 1,400 mg of calcium from diet alone was more moderate. This study relied on women's recollections of their diet, which means that their reporting might not be 100% accurate. Still, this is one of several studies to find a connection between high doses of calcium from supplements and an increased risk of death in both men and women. To shore up your bones and prevent fractures, health experts recommend getting 1,200 mg of calcium a day. However, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) does not recommend that postmenopausal women take daily calcium supplements for fracture prevention. The safest sources are foods such as low-fat milk, yogurt, sardines, and salmon.


Walking lowers stroke risks in women

Updated April 1, 2013

Taking a walk just a few days each week might reduce your stroke risk, even as it improves your overall health and keeps your weight under control.

A study published in the journal Stroke arrived at this conclusion after looking at questionnaires from 13,576 men and 19,416 women (ages 29 to 69) who were enrolled in a cancer and nutrition study in Spain.

Tests to evaluate risk of heart attack

Updated April 1, 2013









Photo: Thinkstock

Although diabetes increases the risk of heart attack in general, a variety of imaging tests may be used to further establish risk in an individual. 

A stress test can identify impaired blood flow to the heart (also known as ischemia) during exercise or stress. The greater the ischemia, the greater an individual's future risk of heart attack or death. "These people may be more likely to benefit from bypass surgery or stenting. Given the results of the FREEDOM trial, bypass surgery should be more strongly recommended for appropriate candidates with diabetes," says Dr. Ron Blankstein, a cardiologist specializing in preventive cardiology and cardiac imaging at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Don't ignore "mild" strokes

Updated March 1, 2013

Seeking care can prevent big strokes in the future.

Many people at risk for heart attack are also at higher risk for stroke, since the underlying disease process—atherosclerosis—can block blood flow to the brain, just as it does in the heart. Although many people know that chest pain is a sign of insufficient blood flow to the heart, they may not recognize the symptoms of inadequate blood flow to the brain. As a result, they can have a mild stroke and not know it.

Tomatoes and stroke protection

Updated February 1, 2013

New evidence shows lycopene is not just a cancer fighter.






Photo: Thinkstock

Here's another reason to savor tomatoes: a recent study in Neurology finds they may help lower your risk of ischemic stroke—blockage of a brain artery that starves cells of oxygen and causes them to die. "We don't understand it entirely yet, but the lycopene in tomatoes may have specific properties that protect the cell in a way other antioxidants may not," says Dr. Edward Giovannucci, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.

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