Look out “mini-stroke” warning deadly larger strokes

Some people underestimate some symptoms such as sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body, they accept them as a sudden but normal body respond to working out or weather.

Do not lose your guard off this health related reactions or any. The serious diagnosis possibly links to  “Mini strokes,” with symptoms that last just a few minutes or hours, are well-recognized warning signs for potentially deadly larger strokes. Now new research confirms that they are associated with a lower life expectancy.

5 sudden “mini-stroke” signs below may warn you an upcoming strokes, so be careful and go to the doctor right afterward.

  1. Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  2. Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  3. Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  4. Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  5. Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

By  suddenly suffering from these listed signs, your now duties are looking forward:
An admission to hospital is the best plan in these circumstances. Hospital admission is also advised if your symptoms of TIA have happened and you will normally be advised to have several tests.

A reduction of smoking, alcoho consumption and a good lifestyle. You can eat lots of white-fleshed fruit such as apples and pears that are considered significantly reduce the risk of stroke, for a suggestion here.

A working out plan: keep staying still all day can never help your mini stroke and your whole health. You should aim to do some moderate physical activity on most days of the week for at least 30 minutes. Examples of suitable activities include brisk walking, swimming, cycling, dancing and gardening.

Conclusion: In itself, a TIA does no harm or permanent damage to your body, particularly the brain, and the symptoms soon go. However, a TIA indicates that you have a tendency to form blood clots in your blood vessels or heart which highly cause heart attack or severe strokes. The potential risks will be significantly reduced by applying proper treatments.

Up-to-date Risk Factors of Stroke Studied

Anyone can suffer from stroke. Suffering from stroke is one of the top cause of long-term disability once brain tissue has died, the body parts controlled by that area won’t work properly. Although many risk factors for stroke are out of our control, studies are still keeping track all possible risks. Prevention never enough for any health problems.

Studies constantly unveils a list of unexpected risk factors for stroke, from behaviors, diets to kinds of disease. Have a look at together!Behavior and diet factors

Sleeping Soon After Dinner

Researchers said that and recommended people wait at least an hour or more after eating to lower Stroke Risk.

Sex, coffee

Drinking coffee raises aneurysm rupture risk (causing stroke) by 10.6 percent and sexual intercourse increases the risk by 4.3 percent, according to the study.

Low-salt diet

Not enough or too much salt in diet can raise the risk of both stroke and heart attack.

Medical Factors

Even slightly high blood pressure

High blood pressure, or hypertension, certainly, is among the most important risk factors for stroke. However, now a new study has found that middle-aged people with blood pressure that’s only slightly above normal, are 68% more likely to have a stroke than those with normal blood pressure.

Heart disease, Obesity or Depression

These cases and stroke occur at a high prevalence and incidence among the general population.

Traumatic Brain Injury

Adults who sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI) are at increased risk of having a stroke, particularly in the first 3 months after injury, a population-based study from Taiwan indicates.

Statins

Statins known as a cholesterol-lowering drugs are not recommended injected to people who have had a type of stroke caused by bleeding in the brain, said U.S. researchers.

Cancer-Fighting Bone Drugs

A new study finds that cancer patients treated with bisphosphonate drugs such as Aredia or Zometa to reduce or delay bone complications from cancer may be at higher risk for the irregular heartbeat known as atrial fibrillation and for a related event, stroke.

Gum Disease

Gum disease, apart from being unsightly and uncomfortable, might significantly increase a person’s risk of stroke. Remember protecting your oral health is a bottom line in this case.

Short-acting nifedipine

Elderly patients receiving the short-acting antihypertensive drug nifedipine are at increased risk for stroke, Korean researchers report. A new study has found older people who take some commonly used anti-inflammatory drugs face an increased risk of stroke.

Chocoholics are at lower risk of strokes: study

According to a Swedish study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology that looked at over 33,000 women, the more chocolate the women said they ate, the lower their risk of stroke.
Chocolate, especially dark, is known to be rich in antioxidants. These antioxidants help combat the free radicals that break down our cells, helping our body to preserve itself and stay healthy.The results raise a growing body of explanation linking cocoa absorption to heart health, but they aren’t a free pass to gorge on chocolate.

“Given the observational design of the study, results of this study cannot demonstrate that it’s chocolate that lowers the risk of stroke,” said Susanna Larsson from Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, in an email to Reuters Health.

While she states chocolate has health advantages, she also informed that eating too much of it might be counterproductive.

“Chocolate should be consumed in moderation as it is high in calories, fat and sugar. As dark chocolate contains more cocoa and less sugar than milk chocolate, consumption of dark chocolate would be more beneficial.”

Larsson and her colleagues tapped into data from a mammography study that involved self-reports of just how much chocolate women ate in 1997. The women ranged in age from 49 to 83 years.

Over the next decade, there have been 1,549 strokes among the group. The more chocolate women had, the lower their threat.

Among those with the highest weekly chocolate intake, over 45 grams, there were 2.5 strokes per 1,000 women per year. That number was 7.8 per 1,000 among women who at the least, less than 8.9 grams a week.

Researchers speculate that substances known as flavonoids, in particular so-called flavanois, may be responsible for chocolate’s apparent influence on health.

According to Larsson, flavonoids have been shown to cut high blood pressure, a risk factor for strokes, and improve other blood factors linked to heart health. Whether that theoretical benefit translates to real-life benefits remains to be proven by rigorous studies, however.

Nearly 800,000 people in the United States suffer a stroke every year, with about a sixth of them dying of it and many more left disabled.

For those at high risk, doctors recommend blood pressure medicine, quitting smoking, exercising more and eating a healthier diet — but so far, chocolate isn’t on the list.

Not only Chocolate may reduce the risk of stroke, but also does eating much chocolate reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes, research showed.

What are the most common risks for stroke

Stroke can happen to anyone, even young people. But, who are at the highest risk for stroke? That is the matter we’d like to mention below.

That those who have  unmodifiable risk factors include age, gender, race/ethnicity, and stroke family history.

Hypertension

Of all the risk factors that contribute to stroke, the most powerful is hypertension, or high blood pressure. People with hypertension have a risk for stroke that is four to six times higher than the risk for those without hypertension. One-third of the adult U.S. population, about 50 million people (including 40-70 percent of those over age 65) have high blood pressure. Forty to 90 percent of stroke patients have high blood pressure before their stroke event.

Hypertension - the most powerful risk for stroke

Heart disease

After hypertension, the second most powerful risk factor for stroke is heart disease, especially a condition known as atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation is irregular beating of the left atrium, or left upper chamber, of the heart. In people with atrial fibrillation, the left atrium beats up to four times faster than the rest of the heart. This leads to an irregular flow of blood and the occasional formation of blood clots that can leave the heart and travel to the brain, causing a stroke.

Diabetes

Diabetes is another disease that increases a person’s risk for stroke. People with diabetes have three times the risk of stroke compared to people without diabetes. The relative risk of stroke from diabetes is highest in the fifth and sixth decades of life and decreases after that. Like hypertension, the relative risk of stroke from diabetes is highest for men at an earlier age and highest for women at an older age. People with diabetes may also have other contributing risk factors that can amplify the overall risk for stroke. For example, the prevalence of hypertension is 40 percent higher in the diabetic population compared to the general population.

Blood cholesterol levels

Most people know that high cholesterol levels contribute to heart disease. But many don’t realize that a high cholesterol level also contributes to stroke risk.

Cigarette smoking

It is the most powerful modifiable stroke risk factor. Smoking almost doubles a person’s risk for ischemic stroke, independent of other risk factors, and it increases a person’s risk for subarachnoid hemorrhage by up to 3.5 percent. Smoking is directly responsible for a greater percentage of the total number of strokes in young adults than in older adults. Risk factors other than smoking – like hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes – account for more of the total number of strokes in older adults.

Heavy smokers are at greater risk for stroke than light smokers. The relative risk of stroke decreases immediately after quitting smoking, with a major reduction of risk seen after 2 to 4 years. Unfortunately, it may take several decades for a former smoker’s risk to drop to the level of someone who never smoked.

Alcohol Addiction

High alcohol consumption is another modifiable risk factor for stroke. Generally, an increase in alcohol consumption leads to an increase in blood pressure. While scientists agree that heavy drinking is a risk for both hemorrhagic and ischemic stroke, in several research studies daily consumption of smaller amounts of alcohol has been found to provide a protective influence against ischemic stroke, perhaps because alcohol decreases the clotting ability of platelets in the blood. Moderate alcohol consumption may act in the same way as cfmirin to decrease blood clotting and prevent ischemic stroke. Heavy alcohol consumption, though, may seriously deplete platelet numbers and compromise blood clotting and blood viscosity, leading to hemorrhage. In addition, heavy drinking or binge drinking can lead to a rebound effect after the alcohol is purged from the body. The consequences of this rebound effect are that blood viscosity (thickness) and platelet levels skyrocket after heavy drinking, increasing the risk for ischemic stroke.

Therapy Can Help Stroke Patients Walk, Even After 6 Months

FRIDAY, Feb. 11 (HealthDay News) — Stroke patients who do intense physical therapy at home achieve the same amount of improvement in their walking ability as those enrolled in a high-tech training program that uses a body-weight supported treadmill device, the results of a new study show.

Comparison study found intense training at home as good as high-tech treadmill device.

The researchers also found that the walking ability of patients who do physical therapy continues to improve for up to one year after their stroke, which challenges the current belief that stroke recovery occurs early and peaks at six months.

Even patients who began rehabilitation as late as six months after their stroke were able to improve their walking, the study authors said.

This was the largest stroke rehabilitation study ever conducted in the United States, and included more than 400 patients, average age 62. Some were assigned to begin locomotor training two months after their stroke while others began at six months post-stroke.

Locomotor training, which involves having a patient walk on a treadmill in a harness that provides partial body-weight support, has grown increasingly popular. Upon completion of treadmill training, patients practice walking.

The patients in the two locomotor training groups were compared to patients who were assigned to a home exercise program managed by a physical therapist. The goal of this program was to enhance patients’ flexibility, range of motion, strength and balance in order to improve their ability to walk.

When the patients were assessed one year after their stroke, 52 percent of all the participants had achieved significant improvements in their ability to walk. Patients in all three groups showed similar gains in the speed and distances of their walking, physical mobility, motor recovery and social participation, resulting in an improved quality of life, the researchers reported.

“More than 4 million stroke survivors experience difficulty walking. Rigorously comparing available physical therapy treatments is essential to determine which is best,” Dr. Walter Koroshetz, deputy director of the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), said in an agency news release.

“The results of this study show that the more expensive, high-tech therapy was not superior to intensive home strength and balance training, but both were better than lower intensity physical therapy,” he explained.

“We were pleased to see that stroke patients who had a home physical therapy exercise program improved just as well as those who did the locomotor training,” principal investigator Pamela W. Duncan, a professor at Duke University School of Medicine, said in the NINDS news release. “The home physical therapy program is more convenient and pragmatic. Usual care should incorporate more intensive exercise programs that are easily accessible to patients to improve walking, function and quality of life.”

The study, which was primarily funded by NINDS, was released Friday at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference in Los Angeles.

Experts note that research presented at meetings has not been subjected to the same type of rigorous scrutiny given to research published in peer-reviewed medical journals.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about stroke rehabilitation.

SOURCE: U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, news release, Feb. 11, 2011

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No Benefit to Lowering Blood Pressure in Acute Stroke: Study

FRIDAY, Feb. 11 (HealthDay News) — Giving medication to lower blood pressure in hypertensive stroke patients appears to have no benefit and might even be harmful, says a new study that seems to confirm current treatment guidelines.

Medication doesn’t improve outcomes and may even be harmful, researchers say.

“Clinicians should not be prescribing blood-pressure-lowering drugs within the first week of acute stroke in routine practice, but researchers should continue to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of other interventions for blood pressure in acute stroke,” said Dr. Graeme J. Hankey, head of the Stroke Unit at Royal Perth Hospital in Australia, who is familiar with the study.

Researchers looked at the effect of the blood pressure-lowering drug candesartan on about 1,000 acute stroke patients. Their findings are published online Feb. 11 in The Lancet to coincide with presentation of the study at the International Stroke Conference in Los Angeles.

When added to the results of 10 previous trials, this study indicates that lowering blood pressure in the first week after acute stroke has no overall benefit on subsequent outcome, said Hankey, author of an accompanying journal editorial.

Doctors have been unsure how to treat high blood pressure in acute stroke patients, and current guidelines recommend leaving it alone.

For the study, a multicenter team led by Dr. Eivind Berge from Oslo University Hospital Ulleval in Norway randomly assigned 2,029 acute stroke patients to take candesartan (Atacand) or a placebo. Candesartan belongs to a family of drugs called angiotensin-receptor blockers.

Over a week, the drug significantly lowered the blood pressure of patients receiving it. However, over six months no difference emerged between the two groups in the risk of death, heart attack or stroke, the researchers found.

Moreover, patients taking the drug tended to have poorer outcomes, compared with patients receiving placebo, although this finding was not statistically significant, Berge’s group says.

Among those taking candesartan, nine had symptoms associated with low blood pressure, compared with five patients taking placebo. In addition, 18 patients taking candesartan suffered kidney failure, compared with 13 patients receiving placebo, the researchers note.

Berge’s team reviewed other studies, which also showed that lowering blood pressure in acute stroke patients had no benefit.

“Other trials are ongoing, but until these trials have been completed we see no place for routine blood pressure-lowering treatment in the acute phase of stroke,” the researchers conclude.

Commenting on the study, Dr. Larry B. Goldstein, professor of neurology and director of the Duke Stroke Center at Duke University Medical Center , said that “the optimal treatment of elevated blood pressure in the setting of acute ischemic stroke has been uncertain because of a lack of adequate controlled trials.”

Current guidelines recommend that blood pressure should generally not be lowered during the acute phase of ischemic stroke, because doing so might compromise circulation to the damaged brain. “This study supports these existing recommendations,” he said.

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

More information

For more information on stroke, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

SOURCES: Larry B. Goldstein, M.D., professor, neurology, and director, Duke Stroke Center, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C.; Graeme J. Hankey, M.D., consultant neurologist and head, Stroke Unit, Royal Perth Hospital and University of Western Australia, Perth; Feb. 11, 2011, The Lancet, online

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New Drug May Help Patients With Irregular Heartbeat Avoid Stroke

THURSDAY, Feb. 10 (HealthDay News) — A new anti-clotting drug works better than aspirin for stroke prevention in some patients with the common, sometimes lethal, heart rhythm problem known as atrial fibrillation, according to research presented Thursday.

Compared to daily aspirin, apixaban cut the odds by 55%, study finds.

The new drug, apixaban, is not yet approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. But study co-author Dr. Hans-Christoph Diener said the pill “reduced stroke risk [in patients with atrial fibrillation] by 55 percent, compared to aspirin.” He believes that “the results of this clinical trial will change clinical practice.”

Diener, of the department of neurology and the Stroke Center at University Hospital Essen in Germany, presented the findings at the annual meeting of the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference in Los Angeles. The findings are also published online Feb. 10 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

In atrial fibrillation, an irregular beating of the heart causes blood to pool in the heart’s chambers. The heart can then “throw” clots up into the arteries supplying blood to the brain, greatly raising the risks for stroke.

Patients with atrial fibrillation are typically prescribed anticoagulants such as warfarin, which is notoriously hard to manage, Diener said at a news conference announcing the study results.

Anticoagulants taken orally can decrease stroke risk by up to 70 percent, according to Diener, but many patients don’t comply with the regimen. “About half of all patients refuse to take [warfarin],” he noted, because its use is accompanied by dietary restrictions and the need for frequent blood tests to check blood levels of the drug. Some patients also fear the possibility of a known hazard of warfarin, an excess risk for bleeding.

Many patients who can’t or won’t take warfarin do take daily aspirin, which cuts the odds of stroke in atrial fibrillation by about 20 percent, according to background information in the study.

In the new study of apixaban, researchers assigned almost 5,600 patients with atrial fibrillation and an increased risk of stroke (due to age or prior stroke, for instance) to one of two groups: apixaban, at 5 milligrams taken twice daily; or aspirin, with doses ranging from 81 to 324 milligrams per day.

The study was done at 522 centers in 36 countries from late 2007 to late 2009. The researchers wanted to compare which drug was better at preventing stroke or blockages due to blood clots elsewhere in the body, called systemic embolism.

Among patients on apixaban, there were 51 strokes or embolisms, or 1.6 percent per year, compared to 113 such events, or 3.7 percent, among those on aspirin.

While apixaban patients experienced 44 major bleeding events, aspirin takers had 39, but the difference was not great enough to be significant from a statistical point of view, Diener said.

The study was funded by Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer, who are working jointly to develop apixaban.

The drug has been shown in previous research to be better at preventing dangerous leg blood clots and lung clots after hip replacement surgery than an older drug, enoxaparin.

Apixaban works by blocking a crucial step in the formation of blood clots. The study of the drug’s effects on stroke prevention was actually halted early after one year, Diener said, because of the huge difference found between the two drugs and the superiority of apixaban.

The new drug isn’t yet approved by the FDA and Diener couldn’t predict when that might happen. Results of another study, a head-to-head comparison of apixaban against warfarin, is due out in August, he said.

A 55 percent reduction in stroke risk compared to aspirin is impressive, said Dr. Larry Chinitz, professor of medicine at the New York University School of Medicine and director of the Heart Rhythm Center at NYU Langone Medical Center. He reviewed the study findings but was not involved in the research.

“I think it’s a game-changer” for higher risk patients with atrial fibrillation, he said, such as those over age 70.

The new drug, if approved, ”will certainly improve the lifestyle of patients,” Chinitz said, as it won’t require, as warfarin does, frequent blood tests or dietary restriction.

Another new anti-clotting drug, Pradaxa (dabigatran), was approved by the FDA in October 2010 for stroke prevention in those with atrial fibrillation. It inhibits an enzyme involved in blood clotting.

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

More information

To learn stroke’s warning signs, head to the American Stroke Association.

SOURCES: Hans-Christoph Diener, M.D., professor and chairman, department of neurology and Stroke Center, University Hospital Essen, Essen, Germany; Larry Chinitz, M.D., director, Heart Rhythm Center, NYU Langone Medical Center, and professor, medicine, NYU School of Medicine, New York City; Feb. 10, 2011, New England Journal of Medicine, online

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Few Stroke Patients Given Clot-Buster Quickly Enough: Study

THURSDAY, Feb. 10 (HealthDay News) Few eligible stroke patients get an injectable clot-busting drug within the recommended 60-minute window after their hospital arrival, new research finds.

Analysis finds age, gender, race play part in who gets it within 60-minute window.

“It has been widely recommended that the ‘door-to-needle’ time should be 60 minutes,” said study author Dr. Gregg C. Fonarow, a professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of California Los Angeles David Geffen School of Medicine. The phrase refers to the timeframe between when the patient arrives at the hospital and when that patient is given the clot-buster, known as tissue plasminogen activator (tPA).

In his analysis of stroke patients from 1,083 hospitals, he found the 60-minute window was not the typical reality. “That occurs only in 26.6 percent of patients,” he said.

Fonarow was slated to present the findings Thursday at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference in Los Angeles; the research is being published simultaneously in the journal Circulation.

Perhaps even more surprising, the hospitals in the study were all participating in the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get with The Guidelines-Stroke quality improvement program, which recommends early tPA administration.

“It involved some of the largest, best-known hospitals for stroke care,” Fonarow said.

The study looked at more than 25,500 patients who had suffered ischemic stroke — in which a blood clot obstructs blood flow — and had been treated with tPA within three hours of the start of symptoms.

Just 6,790 got the intravenous drug within 60 minutes. During the course of the study, there was only modest improvement in the hospitals’ track records.

Fonarow’s team found some differences in age, gender and race when it came to who got the drug quickly and who did not. “Older patients, women, blacks and Hispanics were less likely to be treated in a timely manner,” he said.

He also found that experience mattered. Hospitals that treated a large number of stroke patients were more likely to administer the drug within that 60-minute window.

Those who got the drug in under 60 minutes were also less likely to die during their hospital stay than those who didn’t. While only 8.6 percent of those who got the tPA within the ideal window died while in the hospital, 10.4 percent of those who got the drug less promptly did, the researchers said.

The results confirm other studies suggesting that busier stroke centers do better with stroke care, said Dr. Patrick Lyden, chief of neurology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, who reviewed the findings but was not involved in the research.

The same has held true, he said, for heart surgery and hip replacement surgery. “Busier places do better,” he said. “The next step is to get patients to the busiest stroke centers faster.”

First approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1996, tPA is used to treat ischemic stroke within the first three hours after the onset of symptoms, with certain conditions in a stroke patient ruling out its use. While doctors must decide who is and isn’t a candidate for tPA, loved ones can do much to speed up treatment if a stroke occurs in a family member or friend, Fonarow said.

“Call 911 without delay,” Fonarow said. Don’t try to drive a patient to the hospital, he tells loved ones; rather, order an ambulance. Time lost is brain lost, Fonarow and other neurologists caution.

The Get with the Guidelines-Stroke program is supported in part by the American Heart Association Pharmaceutical Roundtable and the Bristol-Myers Squib/Sanofi Pharmaceutical Partnership. Fonarow reports receiving research support from the National Institutes of Health and serving as a consultant to Pfizer, Merck and other pharmaceutical companies.

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

More information

To learn more about tPA, visit the American Heart Association.

SOURCES: Gregg C. Fonarow, M.D., professor, cardiovascular medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, David Geffen School of Medicine; Patrick Lyden, M.D., chief, neurology, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles; Feb. 10, 2011, presentation, American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2011, Los Angeles; Feb. 10, 2011, Circulation

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Can Diet Soda Boost Your Stroke Risk?

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 9 (HealthDay News) — Diet soda fans who drink the beverages every day may be cutting down on calories, but they also might be boosting their risk of stroke, new research suggests.

Researchers find a 61% increased risk among those who drink daily.

“In our study, we saw a significant increased risk among those who drank diet soda daily and not regular soda,” said Hannah Gardener, an epidemiologist at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, who was slated to present her research Wednesday at the International Stroke Conference 2011 in Los Angeles.

Why the link? “It’s unknown at this point,” she said.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death, behind heart disease and cancer, in the United States. More than 137,000 people a year die from stroke, according to the American Stroke Association.

Previous research by others has found that those who drank more than one soft drink a day, whether regular or diet, were more likely than non-drinkers to have metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors including high blood pressure, elevated triglycerides (blood fats), low levels of good cholesterol, high fasting blood sugar and large waists. Metabolic syndrome, in turn, raises the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, experts agree.

Gardener and her colleagues evaluated the soda habits of 2,564 people enrolled in the large Northern Manhattan Study (NOMAS) to see if there was an association, if any, with stroke. The participants were 69 years of age, on average, and completed food questionnaires about the type of soda they drank and how often.

During the average nine-year follow-up, 559 vascular events occurred, including strokes caused by hemorrhage and those caused by clots, known as ischemic strokes.

The researchers controlled for such factors as age, gender, ethnicity, physical activity, calorie intake, smoking and alcohol drinking habits and still found that those who drank diet soda daily — compared to those who drank no soda — were 61 percent more likely to have a vascular event.

The researchers then controlled for the presence of metabolic syndrome, vascular disease in the limbs and heart disease history; the link still held, albeit at 48 percent.

While the study found a possible association between diet soda and stroke risk, it did not demonstrate a cause and effect. And experts note that research presented at meetings has not been subjected to the same type of rigorous scrutiny given to research published in peer-reviewed medical journals.

“If our study is replicated,” Gardener said, “it would suggest diet soda is not optimal.”

Dr. Patrick Lyden, chief of neurology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, reviewed the findings but was not involved in the research. “My first thought was, ‘The correlation has to be accidental,'” he said.

But he said the science in the study looks sound. “There still could be some sort of accidental correlation,” he said. What to do? “Wait for repeated studies to show a risk and in the meantime, all things in moderation.”

He tells his patients to avoid soda, whether diet or regular, on a daily basis. “An occasional soda never hurt anybody,” he said. “Once or twice a week to me seems to be rational.”

In a separate study, Gardener also found high salt intake was linked to a higher risk of stroke. Using the same data, she looked at 2,657 participants of NOMAS, evaluating their salt intake and following them for nearly 10 years.

During that time, 187 ischemic strokes occurred. Those who consumed more than 4,000 milligrams a day of sodium had more than double the risk of ischemic stroke than those who consumed less than 1,500 milligrams a day.

How much salt is ideal? The American Heart Association recommends less than 1,500 milligrams a day. The current U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends eating less than 2,300 milligrams a day and even less — 1,500 milligrams a day — for those who are 51 and older and certain other people. Among those who should stop at 1,500 milligrams of salt a day are blacks and people with hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease.

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

More information

To learn more about strokes, visit the American Heart Association.

SOURCES: Hannah Gardener, Sc.D., epidemiologist, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine; Patrick Lyden, M.D., chief, neurology, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles; Feb. 9, 2011, presentation, International Stroke Conference 2011, Los Angeles

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Could Poor Memory Signal Raised Stroke Risk?

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 9 (HealthDay News) — Poor memory and problems with other mental skills may be early signs of an increased risk for stroke, a new study suggests.

Study found participants who performed worst on recall test were more likely to suffer a stroke.

Researchers gave a word recall memory test to 17,851 people, while 14,842 people were give a verbal fluency test designed to measure the brain’s executive functioning skills. The participants, who were aged 45 and older (average age 67) and had never had a stroke, were then contacted twice a year for up to 4.5 years.

During the follow-up period, 129 people who took the memory test and 123 people who took the verbal fluency test suffered a stroke, the investigators found.

Among those who took the memory test, participants who scored in the bottom 20 percent were 3.5 times more likely to suffer a stroke than those who scored in the top 20 percent. Among those who took the verbal fluency test, participants who scored in the bottom 20 percent were 3.6 times more likely to have a stroke than those who scored in the top 20 percent.

Although the difference was not as significant at older ages, the study authors found that at age 50, people who scored in the bottom 20 percent of the memory test were 9.4 times more likely to have a stroke than those who scored in the top 20 percent.

The study findings were released online Feb. 9 and will be presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) in Honolulu in April.

Experts note that research presented at meetings has not been subjected to the same type of rigorous scrutiny given to research published in peer-reviewed medical journals.

“Finding ways to prevent stroke and identify people at risk for stroke are important public health problems,” study author Abraham J. Letter, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said in an AAN news release. “This study shows we might get a better idea of who is at high risk of stroke by including a couple of simple tests when we are evaluating people who already have some stroke risk.”

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about stroke risk factors.

SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, news release, Feb. 9, 2011

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