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Stroke Archive

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Stroke risk rises in people who are depressed

Updated April 1, 2012

People who are depressed are more likely to develop heart disease than those who aren't. It works the other way, too — people who have heart disease are more likely to lapse into depression than their disease-free counterparts.

The same association appears to exist between depression and stroke. This isn't a huge surprise, considering that the conditions that cause heart disease — like clogged arteries and inflammation — also contribute to strokes. Still, researchers can only speculate on how depression contributes to these dangerous cardiovascular events or the biological disorders leading up to them.

Niacin + a statin does not add up to benefit

Updated February 1, 2012

In 2011, federal health officials ended an important government-funded clinical trial designed to test whether taking niacin in addition to a cholesterol-lowering statin might do more to lower heart attack and stroke risk than just taking a statin alone. Interim data indicated that the niacin had no benefit and may have been associated with a small, unexplained increase in stroke risk.

Full results of the AIM-HIGH trial, as it was called, were published several months later in The New England Journal of Medicine. Experts continue to fight over the AIM-HIGH results in that ferocious way that experts often do. Some say the results are strong evidence for not adding niacin to statin therapy. Others are adamant that AIM-HIGH missed the mark because of the way it was designed and that it will take the results of a different trial, dubbed THRIVE, to determine if niacin-statin combinations have cardiovascular benefits.

Ask the doctor: Is there a connection between diabetes and sleep apnea?

Updated February 1, 2012

Q. I have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea. Is there any connection between the two?

A. There's one sure connection between type 2 diabetes and obstructive sleep apnea: if you're overweight, you have an increased risk of developing both conditions. But it's an unsettled question whether sleep apnea might somehow increase your chances of getting type 2 diabetes.

Another warfarin alternative for stroke prevention in people with a-fib

Updated February 1, 2012

To switch or not is a decision for you and your doctor to make.

Warfarin's long reign as the drug for preventing stroke in people with atrial fibrillation is being challenged by the second new blood thinner to come on the market within the span of less than a year.

You could be one in a million

Updated January 1, 2012

Are you doing everything possible to prevent a heart attack or stroke?

Dear Reader,

Information about health is often accompanied by numbers — how many people have this disease, what's the risk of developing that condition. Then there are more personal numbers, such as your targets for blood pressure and cholesterol. Understanding all those numbers can be confusing, and much of what the Harvard Heart Letter does is help you make sense of them.

Daily aspirin prevents dangerous clots

Updated January 1, 2012

Yet only half the people who should take it, do.

Aspirin is one of the simplest, safest, cheapest — and most effective — ways to prevent a clot-caused heart attack or stroke. It does so by preventing platelets from sticking together in your blood, an early step in clot formation.

Why blood pressure matters so much

Updated January 1, 2012

Symptomatically silent, it's often the first step toward a stroke or heart attack.

Blood pressure — your doctor routinely checks it because high blood pressure can contribute to strokes, heart attacks, heart failure, and other serious illnesses.

Putting heart attack, stroke triggers in perspective

Updated December 1, 2011

The brief boost in risk usually doesn't linger.

Artery-clogging atherosclerosis is a slow, silent process that often begins in one's teens or 20s. Some people with atherosclerosis live out their lives completely untouched by it. Some develop chest pain (angina) or other problems when they exercise or are under stress. And some have heart attacks or strokes.

Do antidepressants work in the damaged brain?

Updated November 1, 2011

Results have been discouraging for Alzheimer's disease, but they may help stroke patients in a variety of ways.

Alzheimer's disease and the depression that often affects people starting at about age 65 can easily be mistaken for one another. Depression can cause dementia-like deficits in memory and other mental functions, and Alzheimer's disease can cause depressive-like apathy and withdrawal.

The hidden burden of high blood pressure

Updated November 1, 2011

Average life span goes down; rehospitalization rates go up.

A silent condition like high blood pressure is sneaky. You don't feel it, and it generally doesn't cause any outward signs or symptoms. Yet it relentlessly causes problems in the arteries, heart, kidneys, and elsewhere.

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