Looking at Your Risk of Stroke

Looking at Your Risk of Stroke

Looking at Your Risk of Stroke FIGURA_03

A simple set of questions for checking your heart health might also help predict your stroke risk, a new study suggests. The finding hints that even small improvements to your lifestyle might help prevent strokes.

Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death nationwide. It occurs when blood vessels that supply the brain become ruptured or blocked. When blood can’t carry nutrients and oxygen to brain cells, the cells stop functioning and die.

A list of 7 key health factors—called Life’s Simple 7 (LS7)—was developed by the American Heart Association to assess health status. LS7 score is measured by looking at the 7 factors: physical activity, diet, weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and smoking. Each of these factors can be categorized as ideal (high score), average (medium score) or poor (low score). A high score on the LS7 has been linked to low rates of cardiovascular disease and death.
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NIH-funded scientists tested to see if the LS7 score could also assess stroke risk. They studied nearly 23,000 people with an average age of 65 years. The researchers found that each “better” category for overall LS7 score corresponded to a 25% drop in stroke risk. Even participants with only one “ideal” factor had a lower stroke risk compared to those with none.

Health status varied widely for each of the 7 factors. For example, most participants (84%) had an ideal status for smoking, but none (0%) had an ideal diet.

The findings suggest that you might reduce stroke risk by improving 1 or more of these 7 factors. Get active; eat healthy foods; have a healthy weight; don’t smoke; control cholesterol; manage blood pressure; and keep blood glucose in check. Learn more about Life’s Simple 7 and use the free assessment tool at this American Heart Association website: http://mylifecheck.heart.org/http://newsinhealth-test.od.nih.gov/images2/extLink.gif


Editors note: Original article can be found here.

Credit: National Institutes of Health


Antioxidants may ease PAD blood pressure increase

Antioxidants may ease PAD blood pressure increase

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Credit: copyright Getty Images vu3kkm Garnet pomegranate fruit is rich in antioxidants.


HERSHEY, Pa. — Low antioxidant levels contribute to increased blood pressure during exercise for people with peripheral arterial disease, according to researchers at Penn State Hershey Heart and Vascular Institute.

Peripheral arterial disease, or PAD, affects an estimated 10 million Americans and increases the chance of death from a cardiovascular event. Reduced blood flow causes pain in the legs and increases blood pressure in people who have PAD. However, the causes of the disease are unknown.

“Past studies have shown that having low antioxidant levels and increased reactive oxygen species — chemical products that bind to body cells and cause damage — is related to more severe PAD,” said Matthew Muller, postdoctoral fellow in Larry Sinoway’s lab at Penn State College of Medicine, and lead author of the study.

Antioxidants prevent the reactive oxygen species from damaging cells.

“This study shows that blood pressure increases more with exercise in more severe PAD cases. By infusing the antioxidant vitamin C into the blood, we were able to lessen the increase in blood pressure during exercise,” said Muller.

Vitamin C does not lessen the increase in blood pressure of PAD patients to that of healthy people. As the intensity of exercise increases, the effects of vitamin C decrease but are still seen. The researchers report their findings in the Journal of Physiology.

Penn State Hershey researchers looked at three groups of PAD patients to study the blood pressure increase. A group of 13 PAD patients was compared to people without PAD to see the effects of doing low-intensity exercise on blood pressure. From that group, a second group of nine patients was used to measure the effects of vitamin C. A third group of five PAD patients and five without PAD had their leg muscles electrically stimulated to remove the brain’s role in raising blood pressure during muscle contraction in this disease.

Increased blood pressure during exercise occurs in both legs, before pain begins, and relates to the severity of the disease. By using electrical stimulation, the scientists show that the blood pressure increase comes from the muscle itself, since the brain is not telling the leg to contract and the pressure still increases.

“This indicates that during normal, everyday activities such as walking, an impaired antioxidant system — as well as other factors — plays a role in the increased blood pressure response to exercise,” Muller said. “Therefore, supplementing the diet with antioxidants may help these patients, but more studies are needed to confirm this concept.”

Other researchers are Rachel C. Drew, postdoctoral fellow; Cheryl A. Blaha, research coordinator; Jessica L. Mast, research coordinator; Jian Cui, associate professor of medicine; and Amy B. Reed, associate professor of surgery, all of Penn State College of Medicine.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Editors note: Full article can be found here.

Credit: http://live.psu.edu