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Stroke Smart Magazine

March/April 2008

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Restless Leg Syndrome Increases Stroke Risk
Harvard Medical School has released a study that links restless leg syndrome (RLS) with a significant increase in risk for stroke and heart disease. Researchers found that those with RLS are twice as likely to have a stroke. A risk was also seen for those that said their RLS symptoms were severe. Called the “Sleep Heart Health Study” because it examined elements of sleep, the study observed 3,433 people. Researchers cite several reasons that may increase cardiovascular risk for those with RLS. For example, leg movements during sleep may elevate blood pressure and heart rate and lead to a stroke.


Antibiotics Cut Stroke Risk for Heart Patients
A New York University (NYU) study has found that antibiotics can help reduce endocarditis, a heart infection which affects the valves. In turn this can also reduce the risk for stroke.

A stroke can occur in those that have infective endocarditis when debris that accumulates in the heart, breaks off and travels to the brain. This kind of blockage produces an embolic stroke because it deprives the brain of oxygen. The NYU study analyzed 1,437 patients admitted to a hospital with endocarditis. Approximately 15 percent of those analyzed experienced a stroke. After antibiotics were given, a 65% decrease in the stroke rate was observed.

Surgery can be used to treat endocarditis. However, researchers state that if stroke prevention is primary desire for the surgery, it may not be needed after use of antibiotics.


Blood Pressure Medicine May Prevent Stroke
Weill Cornell Medical College researchers have found that a popular blood pressure drug could be used to help prevent strokes. Rats on a stroke-inducing diet were given Micardis and/or Altace, another blood pressure drug. The treatment completely protected the rats. Eighty-three percent of the rats on the diet had strokes. Fifty-six percent of those given Altace had strokes. No strokes occurred in those that were given Micardis, or Micardis with Altace. More research is needed to determine if the blood pressure drug treatment will be safe and effective in human stroke prevention.


Being Fit Over 40 May Significantly Cut Stroke Risk
Researchers at England's University of Cambridge report that people who are over 40 and in-shape may have a lesser chance of having a stroke. The study used 13,600 adults in the United Kingdom and began in 1993. Of the sample population, the top 25 percent of those in shape were half as likely to have a stroke as those in the bottom 25 percent.


Stroke and Vitamin D
Researchers at Harvard have found that those with lower levels of Vitamin D are at a higher risk for stroke and heart attack. The Harvard study lasted five years and followed 1,739 people. Based on their study, researchers concluded that those with low vitamin D levels had a 60 percent greater risk of having a stroke or other cardiovascular complications such as heart failure. The risk for stroke is doubled for those with both high blood pressure (hypertension) and vitamin D deficiencies.

Experts say that it’s too early to determine whether or not taking vitamin D supplements would lower future risk for medical complications. Instead, researchers are urging people to get 10 to 15 minutes of sunlight, three times weekly to naturally produce necessary vitamin D levels.



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National Stroke Association’s mission is to reduce the incidence and impact of stroke by developing compelling education and programs focused on prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and support for all impacted by stroke.

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