Tag Archives: stroke

Could fish oil lower your risk of stroke?

fish oil. stroke, healthy fat, health, heart healthStroke continues to be one of the top ten leading causes of death in the United States.  And even if a person survives a stroke, they may face permanent disability from a stroke. In turn, having a stroke could greatly impact a person’s quality of life. This is why it’s so important to keep learning more about how this disease can be prevented. A recent study shows that taking a fish oil supplement each day may help lower risk of stroke.

What is stroke?

Stroke is a form of vascular disease that affects the arteries to and within the brain.  A stroke occurs when these vessels become blocked by a clot or bursts. A stroke caused by a blockage is called an ischemic stroke. On the other hand, a stroke called by a ruptured vessel is called a hemorrhagic stroke.

Since these arteries normally carry oxygen and blood to the brain, this blockage can be deadly. If the brain, or the control center of your body, doesn’t receive oxygen or nutrients, then brain cells can die. This in turn can wreak havoc all over your body.

Depending on what area of the brain the stroke occurs, different complications can occur. A right brain stroke can cause paralysis on the left side of the body, vision problems, and memory loss. On the other hand, a stroke on the left side of the brain can cause paralysis on the right side of the body, speech problems, and memory loss.

Either way, these complications can greatly affect quality of life. However, by taking care of your heart health, you can lower your risk of stroke.

What is fish oil?

Fish oil is a supplement that contains omega-3 fatty acids. Two of the primary long-chain omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil supplements are DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, and EPA, or eicosapentaenoic acid.  These fatty acids are marine-based, hence fish oil supplements.

The omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) are well-known for their role in heart health. Study results show that fish oil works well as a supportive treatment, along with statins, to help lower heart disease risk. The average fish oil supplement provides about 1000 milligram of fish oils, containing about 180 mg EPA and 120 mg DHA or more.

An example of a high quality fish oil supplement is the formula developed by Vita Sciences. This fish oil by Vita Sciences contains 400mg of EPA and 300mg of DHA in a 1000 milligram fish oil supplement.

Stroke and fish oil research

A recent study analyzed data from about 55,000 people enrolled in the Danish Diet, Cancer and Health study. They completed dietary surveys and had baseline adipose tissue analysis completed. Then, the individuals had follow-up assessments after 13.5 years to check for ischemic stroke status events, if any.

Study results show that those with higher adipose tissue content of EPA showed a lower risk of total ischemic stroke.  Also, lower rates of large artery atherosclerosis were seen with higher intakes of total marine n-3 PUFA, EPA, and DHA.

Other ways to reduce stroke risk

Besides taking a fish oil supplement each day, here are some other ways you can lower your stroke risk.

  • Quit smoking if you already do. This is because smoking can constrict blood vessels. This, in turn, can raise blood pressure and increase risk of stroke.
  • Maintain heart health by keeping blood pressure and cholesterol levels in a healthy range. You can do this by eating a diet rich in fiber and antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Also, be sure to move more on a regular basis to keep your heart muscle strong and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Keep your blood glucose levels in a healthy range. This is because those with diabetes are at higher risk for heart health issues than those without diabetes.
  • Visit your doctor regularly. By having your labs done at least yearly (or more often if you have a chronic disease risk), you can track your progress. Early detection of heart health issues can help lower your risk of stroke.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD

References:

American Stroke Association (accessed January 23, 2019) “About Stroke.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (last reviewed November 28, 2017) “Stroke.” https://www.cdc.gov/stroke/index.htm

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (accessed January 23, 2019) “Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution.” https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fats-and-cholesterol/types-of-fat/omega-3-fats/

Hughes, S. (January 17, 2019) “Fish Oil, Particularly EPA, Linked to Reduced Ischemic Stroke.” https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/907950

National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements (last updated November 21, 2018) “Omega-3 Fatty Acids.”

Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (last updated October 29, 2018) “Reduce Your Risk of Stroke.”


  • Lower stroke risk with healthy living

    heart, health, stroke, cardiovascular, nutritionIt may seem like common sense that living a healthier lifestyle can lower your disease risk. but what exactly is a healthier lifestyle? With so much information on health and wellness in the media, it can be hard to know what healthy really is. From low carb to keto to fasting, each diet plan claims to be the best and healthiest. However, the healthiest eating regimen is going to be the one that makes your unique body feel its best and that you can stick with for the long term. Not to mention, that being healthy is about more than just diet. Staying active, managing stress, and sleeping well enough are just some behaviors that affect health. Recent research shows that leading a healthier lifestyle can reduce your stroke risk and in turn improve your quality of life.

    What is stroke?

    A stroke occurs when something blocks blood flow to the brain, or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts. As a result, part of the brain can become damage or die. This can lead to brain damage, disability, or death. Therefore, it is important to know if you are at risk for stroke. And if you are, it is important to know what you can do to lower your risk. This is because the brain is vital for such functions as thinking, feeling, breathing, and digestion. So to take care of your whole body health, you need to take care of your brain. And for brain health, you need to take care of your body in many ways. This is where healthy living comes in.

    Stroke risk and healthy living

    A 7-year research study looked at the impact of different lifestyle measures on stroke risk. Also, researchers looked at 90 gene variants in this group of over 300,000 people to determine their stroke risk. The stroke rate was 35-percent higher for those with a higher gene score versus one with a lower score. And when researchers looked at lifestyle factors, those who were healthier had a 66-percent lower risk of stroke than those who had an unhealthy lifestyle. In this study, those considered to have a healthy lifestyle were those that:

    • did not smoke.
    • were not overweight.
    • engaged in regular exercise.
    • consumed a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and fish.

    Furthermore, those who had a high genetic score and were considered unhealthy had a stroke risk score nearly double than that of those with the lowest scores and healthiest lifestyles.

    Ways you can live your healthiest life

    Besides eating right, staying active, and not smoking, there are several other things you can do to stay your healthiest.

    • Sleep enough each night: Research shows that short or too long sleep patterns as well as insomnia with short sleep patterns, can increase risk of stroke. Therefore, be sure to find a happy balance in your sleep time. the National Sleep Foundation recommends that most adults sleep seven to nine hours each night. If you find you are having trouble sleeping, it may be helpful to visit your doctor for treatment. They could recommend a sleep study done to identify any health issues that could be disturbing your sleep.
    • Manage stress: Stress affects all of us to some degree. However, too much stress can have an impact on your heart health. Therefore, be sure to manage your stress with some relaxation breathing, meditation, yoga, or talking to a counselor each week.
    • Visit your doctor regularly: It’s important to visit your doctor at least once a year to check your numbers. Your numbers include cholesterol, triglycerides, blood glucose levels, blood pressure, and body weight. These numbers can help identify any heart health risk factors you may have. The earlier you find such risk factors, the earlier you can receive treatment and prevent your risk of stroke.
    • Take supplements when necessary: If you are lacking certain vitamins or minerals in your diet, you may need a supplement such as a multivitamin or fish oil. This can help your body receive the antioxidants you need to fight oxidative stress and lower chronic disease risk factors. One such supplement is Circova by Vita Sciences. Circova contains ingredients like L-arginine, niacin, and hawthorne to help promote improved blood flow and blood pressure.

    -written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD

    References:

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (May 3, 2018) “About Stroke.”

    HealthDay (October 25, 2018) “Does Stroke Run in Your Family? Healthy Living Lowers the Risk.”

    Koo, D. L., Nam, H., Thomas, R. J., & Yun, C. H. (2018). Sleep Disturbances as a Risk Factor for Stroke. Journal of stroke20(1), 12-32.

    Meschia, J.F., et al. (2014) “Guidelines for the Primary Prevention of Stroke.” Stroke, 45(12): 3754-3832.

    National Sleep Foundation (accessed October 30, 2018) “National Sleep Foundation Recommends New Sleep Times.”

     

     


  • Could Unemployment Increase Stroke Risk?

    In unstable financial times, losing a job can be a very stressful time in one’s life.  Anxiety and depression could develop as a result of such a big life event. In turn, a person’s health may start to worsen after losing a job if they do not have effective measures in place to help manage their stress.  Emotional eating, loss of sleep, and engaging in unhealthy habits such as drinking and smoking may develop as a result of stress. In fact, a study from Japan has recently found that those who are unemployed have a greater risk of stroke than those who are employed.

    unemployment, health, stroke, heart disease

    Unemployment and Stroke Risk Study

    A recent study of about 42,000 men found that those men who were unemployed had a 60-percent higher risk of stroke than those who were steadily employed. In addition, those unemployed men who suffered a stroke were about 120-percent more likely to die from it than those employed men who had a stroke. For women, those who were unemployed had a 50-percent greater chance of having a stroke. Of those women who had a stroke, those who were unemployed had a 150-percent greater chance of death.

    It is suggested that these alarming rates of stroke and stroke-related death in the unemployed may be due to unhealthy habits such as drinking, smoking, being inactive, and having a poor diet.  In addition, it is suggested that even once re-employed, individuals may feel afraid that they will lose their job again, and therefore may be afraid to take leave when they are sick.  In turn, this could affect their long-term physical health.

    Although this study is based on the Japanese culture, it may not be completely applicable to Americans, so further studies must be done. However, studies like the Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance System reported by the Centers for Disease Control suggest risk of depression is significantly increased for those Americans out of work.

    How Can I Lower My Risk For Stroke?

    Staying heart healthy involves a holisitic approach of eating balanced meals, staying active, and managing stress. Follow the tips below to help you keep your heart healthy for many years to come.

    • Consume minimally processed foods.  There are many foods that have to go through some processing to create such as yogurt or cottage cheese.  However, these types of products are only minimally processed. When trying to eat heart healthy, just be sure to limit highly processed foods such as neon-colored salty snacks, canned foods, pre-packaged meals, and deli meats like hot dogs or luncheon meat.  Just keep in mind that if it is an unnatural color, or has a confusing list of ingredients, then it is likely to be a highly processed product.
    • Consume plenty of fiber-rich foods. Fruits, veggies, whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and oats, as well as nuts and seeds are all great natural sources of fiber.  Fiber is important for helping stabilize blood glucose levels, slow down digestion to help with absorption of nutrients from foods, and to bulk stool to help with elimination of wastes from the body. Furthermore, fiber is also great for helping you to stay more satisfied after meals, so it can help with weight management.
    • Stay active.  Staying active each day for at least 30 minutes can be a great way to blow off some steam and keep your heart healthy.  This doesn’t mean you have to go to boot camp classes or run a marathon. Simple moderate activity such as walking, riding a bike, or swimming can help keep your heart  healthy.  Exercise not only works to strengthen your heart, but can also act as an outlet for stress.
    • Get plenty of sleep. When you are feeling stressed, it can be hard to sleep. However, lack of sleep can actually make you more prone to anxiety and depression. This is because your body uses sleeping time to regulate hormones, fluids, and blood glucose levels in the body.  If you have trouble sleeping, try natural essential oils such as lavender or frankincense to help relax your mind. Other sleeping aids may include:
      • Relaxation breathing
      • Listening to relaxing music
      • Eliminating screen time before bed
      • Avoiding fluid consumption 2 hours before bed to avoid interrupted sleep
      • Supplements like Somnova from Vitasciences.

    Somnova includes natural ingredients like melatonin and magnesium that work together to help produce restful sleep. Melatonin is also natural, so it is unlikely to have any interactions with other medicines you may be taking. However, be sure to check with your medical provider before starting any supplement regimen.

    • Develop healthy stress management techniques.  Find 15 minutes a day to engage in an activity that you enjoy. Reading a book,  taking a relaxing bath, or going to an acupuncturist or massage therapist, are some ways to relax. Also, visiting a counselor may help you better deal with stress and anxiety. Consistent self-care is essential to overall health and well-being. You can also try supplements like TheraCALM from Vitasciences to help with stress relief and restful sleep.

    Visit Vitasciences for all of your supplement needs to help enhance your healthy lifestyle. Also, be sure to visit the National Stroke Association for more information on stroke facts, prevention, and research.

    written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

    Sources:

    American Heart Association (August 2015) “The American Heart Association’s Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations” http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/The-American-Heart-Associations-Diet-and-Lifestyle-Recommendations_UCM_305855_Article.jsp#.WPUehMuQx9A

    Centers for Disease Control (March 19, 2015). “Unemployment and Depression Among Emerging Adults in 12 States, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2010” https://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2015/14_0451.htm

    Medline Plus (2017 April 13). “Another Downside to Unemployment: Stroke Risk?” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_164623.html


  • Can Exercise Prevent Stroke Complications?

    stroke, heart disease, health

    Knowing these signs and symptoms of stroke can help save a life; perhaps even your own.

    I’m sure you have heard many times before how exercising is great for keeping your heart strong. Therefore, it may come as no surprise that exercise has been found to prevent complications after someone has a stroke.

     

    What is a stroke?

    A stroke is essentially a brain attack of which there are two major types.

    A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a weakened blood vessel bursts.  An ischemic stroke is caused by restricted blood flow to the brain as a result of a vessel being blocked.

    According to the National Stroke Association, these brain attacks are the fifth leading cause of death in America and one of the leading causes of adult disabilities in the country.  Unlike what was previously though, it is estimated that 80-percent of strokes can be prevented by such controllable lifestyle factors as:

    • Eating a healthy diet. To consume a heart and brain healthy diet, you can:
      • Limit saturated fats in the diet such as those from fatty meats, whole fat dairy products, and fried foods.
      • Limit sodium in the diet to 2300 milligrams a day.  You can limit sodium by reducing the amount of processed food products you consume each day.  Try to  limit intake of high sodium foods such as canned soups, chips, deli meats, and adding salt to your food.
      • Limit added sugars at meal and snack time.  Try to stick to foods that contain less than 15 grams of sugar per serving and limit intake of sugary drinks such as juice, cola, milkshakes, and dessert coffee drinks.
    • Stay active. Exercise at least 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week. This doesn’t mean you have to attend boot camp classes. Just walking at a brisk pace is enough to keep your heart strong.
    • Limit alcohol intake. For healthy living, you should consume no more than 1 standard drink a day for women and no more than 2 standard drinks a day for men. Alcohol has been associated with increased blood pressure, which can increase risk of stroke. One standard drink is equal to 12 ounces beer, 5 ounces wine, or 1.5 ounces liquor.
    • Quit smoking or don’t start. Smoking constricts the blood vessels, therefore restricting blood flow to the organs and tissues.
    • Visit your doctor regularly. You and your healthcare provider should work to control any chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes since these conditions can increase your risk of having a stroke.

    Exercise and stroke

    In the journal Neurology, researchers followed individuals with no history of stroke for 12 years.  Over 7-percent of those individuals suffered a stroke and survived during the course of the study.  It was found that three years after this major health event, survivors who had exercised regularly before their stroke were 18 percent more likely to be able to perform basic tasks such as bathing themselves. Furthermore, those individuals who were more fit were 16 percent more likely to be able to perform more complex tasks, such as managing money on their own, compared to those who did not exercise.

    Surprisingly, a person’s body mass index, or estimate of fat mass, was not a predicting factor in their level of disability after having a stroke. Therefore, it is suggested that doctors should stress the importance of leading an active lifestyle for not only prevention of the condition, but also to improve chances of survival if a stroke occurs.

    Another way to help prevent stroke is to take a heart healthy supplement such as Circova by Vita SciencesCircova contains a powerful blend of Hawthorne extract which has been found to assist in the dilation of blood vessels, in turn increasing blood flow to the heart.

    Visit the National Stroke Association website for more information on how you can prevent stroke.

    -Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

    Sources:

    National Stroke Association (accessed 2017 April 10) “What is Stroke?” http://www.stroke.org/understand-stroke/what-stroke

    Preidt, R. (2017 April 5) “Fitness, Not Fat, Is Key to Post-Stroke Recovery” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_164476.html