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Stroke Smart Magazine

September/October 2008

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Posture and Reflexes: Stroke Risk Factors?
Subtle neurological abnormalities reduced reflexes, unstable posture, tremors, differences in hand strength may be a sign of early brain damage in older adults, according to a new study. Italian researchers tested more than 500 healthy elderly people and found that those with three or more of these types of issues were more likely to have a stroke or die over an eight-year period. This knowledge could have big impacts on how doctors develop prevention plans for their elderly patients as. More research is needed.

Having Asthma May Increase Stroke Risk in Women
Women who have asthma may have a higher risk of stroke and heart attack, according to research published in the American Journal of Cardiology. Asthma symptoms usually include persistent coughs, chest tightness, shortness of breath and wheezing.

The 14-year study found that women who developed asthma in adulthood had more than a two-fold increase in the rate of stroke and heart disease than non-asthmatic women. The increased risks did not apply to men, nor to the more common form of asthma, which develops during childhood. Researchers speculate that the cause of these differences could be related to estrogen and the way asthma affects the arteries in women.
Accounting for up to 20 per cent of the asthma seen in adults, it is less likely to be triggered by allergies to pollen, dust mites and animals than the childhood form.

Coffee and Tea and Stroke
Finnish researchers made an interesting discovery in a lung cancer prevention study of male smokers: the heavy coffee and tea drinkers had fewer strokes caused by a blockage of the arteries. Of the 26,556 participants, those who drank eight or more cups of coffee daily had a 23-percent lower stroke risk when compared to those who drank two cups or less. Those who drank two or more cups of tea daily had a 21-percent lower risk than those who did not drink tea. The theory is that the antioxidants found in coffee and tea helped slow or prevent atherosclerosis, or the hardening of the arteries, that often causes the strokes. Researchers warn that the findings do not indicate that smoking is a healthy option when paired with high coffee or tea consumption. More research is needed.

Sudden Hearing Loss May Be Sign of Future Stroke
People who experience a sudden loss of hearing may be at a higher risk for stroke. In a Taiwanese study, participants hospitalized for sudden deafness were 1.64-fold more likely to have a stroke in the next five years, compared to the general population. It is too early to make any final conclusions about the research; more studies are needed to determine the link between hearing loss and stroke.

ARBs vs. ACE Inhibitors
When compared in a recent Italian study, Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs) outperformed ACE Inhibitors in lowering stroke risk in high risk patients. The risk of stroke in patients on ARBs was eight-percent lower than with ACE inhibitors, according to the Italian study. There were no significant differences between the two drugs in risk of heart attack or mortality. ARBs and ACE inhibitors are drugs used to reduce blood pressure in some patients.

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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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