Stroke Archive

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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.

COVID-19 diagnosis raises risk of heart attack, stroke

A Swedish study suggests that risk of a heart attack or stroke at least triples in the week following a COVID-19 diagnosis.

Is extra-virgin olive oil extra healthy?

Studies have shown a link between lower risks of cardiovascular disease, some cancers, and even dementia in people who consume higher amounts of olive oil. However, no definitive studies show extra-virgin olive oil has greater benefits than regular olive oil.

The danger of a "silent" heart attack

So-called silent heart attacks (marked by unexplained weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath, or nausea) often go unrecognized. But they may be almost as concerning as regular heart attacks and have been linked to a higher risk of stroke. Some of this heightened stroke risk stems from shared risk factors, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and elevated cholesterol levels. But heart attacks can also damage the heart’s lower chambers. This may prevent the heart from contracting normally, which can lead to formation of a clot that then travels to the brain, causing a stroke.

Stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation: Beyond anti-clotting drugs

People with atrial fibrillation who develop or face a high risk of serious bleeding from anti-clotting drugs may be candidates for procedures that block or remove a part of the heart where dangerous blood clots form. About 90% of blood clots in the heart form in the left atrial appendage (LAA), a small pouch that protrudes from the top of the heart. Two procedures prevent clots from escaping from the LAA and causing a stroke. One delivers a device that blocks the opening of the LAA; the other removes most of the LAA during heart surgery done for another reason.

Exercise appears to lower atrial fibrillation and stroke risk

The link between exercise and atrial fibrillation (afib) and stroke prevention is now a little clearer, thanks to a Harvard study. It offers strong evidence that 150 minutes per week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity is associated with a reduced risk for atrial fibrillation and stroke. Researchers aren’t surprised, since exercise helps the chambers of the heart contract and relax, while being sedentary increases afib and stroke risk. Other ways to ward off afib and stroke include treating sleep apnea, quitting smoking, and drinking only in moderation.

Do people who have COVID-19 go on to develop other diseases?

Evidence suggests that people who recover from COVID-19 have an increased risk for developing new health problems, including heart attacks, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, muscle inflammation, blood clots that travel to the lungs, strokes from clots or hemorrhages, or psychosis. This is in addition to permanent damage that can result from having COVID, including damage to the lungs, heart, kidneys, brain, or other organs; and debilitating fatigue, difficulty thinking, and other symptoms that make it hard to function normally at work or at home.

Should you worry about prediabetes?

Approximately 88 million Americans—more than one in three—have prediabetes, a condition in which the average amount of sugar in the blood (glucose) is high but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Among people who develop prediabetes, older ones are less likely than younger ones to eventually develop full-blown diabetes. Still, they should have their glucose levels checked, as prediabetes can put them at high risk for heart attack and stroke.

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