Simple test may help predict long-term outcome after stroke

A simple test taken within a week of a stroke may help predict how well people will have recovered up to three years later, according to a study published in the October 17, 2018, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“We found that this test, which takes less than 10 minutes, can help predict whether people will have impaired thinking skills, problems that keep them from performing daily tasks such as bathing and dressing and even whether they will be more likely to die,” said study author Martin Dichgans, MD, of Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, Germany. “This test should be used to screen people with stroke and to counsel them and their families about long-term prognosis and also to identify those who would most benefit from interventions that could improve their outcomes.”

For the study, 274 people in Germany and France who had a stroke were given the test, called the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, within a week of the stroke. They were then divided into two groups: those with no problems with thinking and memory skills and those with cognitive impairment. The participants were tested for their thinking and memory skills, motor functioning and ability to complete daily living tasks six months later and then at one and three years after the stroke.

Full story at Science Daily

Mediterranean-style diet may lower women’s stroke risk

One of the largest and longest-running efforts to evaluate the potential benefits of the Mediterranean-style diet in lowering risk of stroke found that the diet may be especially protective in women over 40 regardless of menopausal status or hormone replacement therapy, according to new research in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke.

Researchers from the Universities of East Anglia, Aberdeen and Cambridge collaborated in this study using key components of a traditional Mediterranean-style diet including high intakes of fish, fruits and nuts, vegetables, cereal foods and potatoes and lower meat and dairy consumption.

Study participants (23,232 white adults, 40 to 77) were from the EPIC-Norfolk study, the United Kingdom Norfolk arm of the multicenter European Prospective Investigation into Cancer study. Over a 17-year period, researchers examined participants’ diets and compared stroke risk among four groups ranked highest to lowest by how closely they adhered to a Mediterranean style diet.

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Breastfeeding may help protect mothers against stroke

Breastfeeding is not only good for babies, there is growing evidence it may also reduce the risk for stroke in post-menopausal women who reported breastfeeding at least one child, according to new research in Journal of the American Heart Association, the Open Access Journal of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death among women aged 65 and older, and is the third leading cause of death among Hispanic and black women aged 65 and older, according to the study.

“Some studies have reported that breastfeeding may reduce the rates of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in mothers. Recent findings point to the benefits of breastfeeding on heart disease and other specific cardiovascular risk factors,” said Lisette T. Jacobson, Ph.D., M.P.A., M.A., lead author of the study and assistant professor in the department of preventive medicine and public health at the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita.

Full story at Science Daily

Known risk factors largely explain links between loneliness and first time heart disease/stroke

Conventional risk factors largely explain the links observed between loneliness/social isolation and first time heart disease/stroke, finds the largest study of its kind published online in the journal Heart.

But having few social contacts still remains an independent risk factor for death among those with pre-existing cardiovascular disease, the findings show.

Recent research has increasingly highlighted links between loneliness and social isolation and cardiovascular disease and death. But most of these studies have not considered a wide range of other potentially influential factors, say the authors.

In a bid to clarify what role these other factors might have, they drew on data from nearly 480,000 people aged between 40 and 69, who were all part of the UK Biobank study between 2007 and 2010.

Full story at Science Daily

Aspirin lowers risk of early death for patients with diabetes, heart failure

For people living with both Type 2 diabetes and heart failure, taking an aspirin each day appears to lower the risk of dying or being hospitalized for heart failure, according to research being presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 67th Annual Scientific Session. But the data also reveal aspirin use may increase the risk of nonfatal heart attack or stroke, a somewhat contradictory finding that surprised researchers.

The study is the first to assess aspirin as a preventive measure for patients who have both diabetes and heart failure. Aspirin, a blood thinner, is strongly recommended for patients who have previously had a heart attack or stroke, but guidelines are unclear regarding its use as a preventive measure for patients who have cardiovascular risk factors but no history of heart attack or stroke. Previous studies in people who have not had those types of health events have shown conflicting evidence of aspirin’s potential benefits in the general population. In patients with heart failure, some studies suggest a daily aspirin may even be harmful.

About 27 million people in the U.S. have Type 2 diabetes and about 6.5 million U.S. adults have heart failure, a condition in which the heart becomes too weak to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. Each condition is associated with an elevated risk of cardiac events, including heart attack and stroke. This study sheds new light on the potential risks and benefits of aspirin for people with both conditions.

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American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month . According to the American Heart Association , approximately 85 million adults (greater than 1 in 3) have cardiovascular disease; more than 43 million adults age 60 and older are impacted.  Additionally, about two-thirds of cardiovascular disease-related deaths occur in people age 75 and older.

With support from the Administration for Community Living (ACL), organizations across the country are offering proven programs to help people better manage chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease. Since 2010, more than 340,000 individuals have participated in chronic disease self-management education (CDSME) and self-management support programs. More than 60% of participants indicate having multiple chronic health conditions, including nearly 42% with hypertension and approximately 15% with heart disease.

Full story at acl.gov

Discovery paves way for treatment to prevent blood vessel damage

The discovery of a previously unknown interaction between proteins could provide a breakthrough in the prevention of damage to healthy blood vessels. Led by the University of Bradford, the research shows how the two proteins combine to protect blood vessels from inflammation and damage and could pave the way for treatments to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.

The new study, published in Nature Communications, found that when a protein called SOCS3 binds directly with another protein called Cavin-1, small cell surface regions of blood vessels called caveolae are stabilised, preventing damage. This mechanism, previously unknown, is important for maintaining healthy vascular function. This process happens naturally in healthy cells but can be compromised when damage occurs, through natural processes such as ageing or as a result of lifestyle.

Full story at Science Daily

Determining motor deficits more precisely following a stroke

After a stroke, many people are unable to successfully perform basic hand movements in everyday life. The reason are symptoms of hemiparesis resulting from damage to the brain. These very frequently affect fine motor skills. A team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) is now paving the way to better diagnosis and more targeted therapy.

The fact that patients experience restricted mobility when attempting to grasp, hold and use simple everyday objects and tools after a stroke is assessed by classical tests of their manual dexterity. Very often, it is the Jebsen Taylor Hand Function Test which is performed, where a sentence must be written on a piece of paper. “However, the Jebsen and other tests do not reveal which individual factors lead to stroke patients having difficulty in dealing with grasping and handling simple things, such as a leaf,” says Professor Joachim Hermsdoerfer from the Chair of Human Movement Science at the TUM Department of Sport and Health Sciences. “This is why we developed tests ourselves in order to derive more targeted therapeutic approaches based on the influencing factors identified.” Joachim Hermsdörfer and lead author Kathrin Allgoewer have just published their results in the journal Clinical Neurophysiology.

Full story at Science Daily

Poor sleep is associated with ischemic heart disease and stroke

Poor sleep is associated with ischaemic heart disease and stroke, according to research presented today at ESC Congress. The observational study in nearly 13,000 people revealed different patterns of sleep disturbance between the two conditions, with ischaemic heart disease being linked to shorter sleep and brief moments of waking up.

“Poor sleep is associated with cardiovascular diseases such as ischaemic heart disease and stroke but the kind of sleep disturbances that are most risky is not well documented,” said lead researcher Dr Nobuo Sasaki, of the Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Casualty Council, Japan.  “‘Poor sleep’ includes too short or too long sleep, difficulty falling asleep, and difficulty maintaining sleep.”

This study investigated the association between sleep disturbances and cardiovascular disease. It also aimed to clarify possible differences in sleep disturbances between ischaemic heart disease and stroke.

Full story at Science Daily

Men, not women, may be having fewer strokes

The overall rate of stroke in the United States has been declining in recent years and while that has been good news, a new study suggests it may be primarily good news for men. The research, published in the August 9, 2017, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, found that while the stroke rate for men declined during the study period, for women it remained the same.

“For years, women have had a lower overall rate of stroke compared with men, but now men appear to be approaching similar rates. While any decrease in rates of stroke is of course a good thing, it leaves one to wonder why women’s rates are not going down to the same extent,” said study author Tracy E. Madsen, MD, ScM, of the Alpert Medical School of Brown University in Providence, R.I. “At the end of our study, stroke rates for men and women were nearly the same.”

Recent figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that stroke has decreased to the fifth leading cause of death for men yet it remains the fourth leading cause of death for women.

Full story at Science Daily