Drugs to prevent stroke and dementia show promise in early trial

Treatments that prevent recurrence of types of stroke and dementia caused by damage to small blood vessels in the brain have moved a step closer, following a small study.

The drugs — called cilostazol and isosorbide mononitrate — are already used to treat other conditions, such as heart disease and angina.

This is the first time they have been tested in the UK for the treatment of stroke or vascular dementia.

A study involving more than 50 stroke patients found that patients tolerated the drugs, with no serious side effects, even when the drugs were given in full dose or in combination with other medicines.

Full story at Science Daily

The stroke care paradox: Close-knit social networks increase delays in hospital arrival

Newly developed treatment strategies can minimize the size of a patient’s stroke and, in many cases, change what would have been a life-altering cerebrovascular event into a minor one with the prospect of excellent recovery. But these therapies are time sensitive — delays in seeking care can put them out of reach. Each year in the U.S., 795,000 patients will have a stroke and approximately 70 percent of them will arrive at the hospital more than six hours after the onset of symptoms. Investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital examined how social networks may influence delays in arrival times for patients experiencing the symptoms of a stroke. Paradoxically, they found that patients with closer-knit social networks, including family members and spouses, were more likely to delay seeking hospital care whereas those with a more dispersed network of acquaintances were more likely to seek care faster. The team’s analysis is published in Nature Communications.

“Closed networks are like echo chambers in which there is a tendency for everyone to agree to watch and wait,” said corresponding author Amar Dhand, MD, DPhil, of the Department of Neurology at the Brigham. “A major problem in stroke care is patients’ delayed arrival to the hospital, and we show that this problem is related to the influence of patients’ social networks.”

Full story at Science Daily

Blood clot discovery could pave way for treatment of blood diseases

Scientists have discovered new ways in which the body regulates blood clots, in a discovery which could one day lead to the development of better treatments that could help prevent and treat conditions including heart diseases, stroke and vascular dementia.

Led by the University of Exeter and funded by the British Heart Foundation, the team has developed a new technique that allows them to simultaneously measure blood clotting and the formation of free radicals.

Free radicals are unstable molecules containing unpaired single electrons seeking to pair up. This makes these molecules highly reactive and able to modify protein, lipids and DNA. Amongst other unwanted effects, free radicals play a role in the build-up of blood clots, which in turn are considered a key driver in the a development of a range of conditions, including heart disease, stroke, dementia, and inflammation-related conditions such as arthritis.

Full story at Science Daily

Targeting ‘hidden pocket’ for treatment of stroke and seizure

The ideal drug is one that only affects the exact cells and neurons it is designed to treat, without unwanted side effects. This concept is especially important when treating the delicate and complex human brain. Now, scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory have revealed a mechanism that could lead to this kind of long-sought specificity for treatments of strokes and seizures.

According to Professor Hiro Furukawa, the senior scientist who oversaw this work, “it really comes down to chemistry.”

When the human brain is injured, such as during a stroke, parts of the brain begin to acidify. This acidification leads to the rampant release of glutamate.

“We suddenly get more glutamate all over the place that hits the NMDA receptor and that causes the NMDA receptor to start firing quite a lot,” explains Furukawa.

Full story at Science Daily

Unlocking the secrets of how cells communicate offers insights into treating diseases

Portland State University researchers have made a significant breakthrough by developing the 3-D structure of proteins from inside the eye lens that control how cells communicate with each other, which could open the door to treating diseases such as cataracts, stroke and cancer.

The PSU research team, led by chemistry professor Steve Reichow, used a multimillion-dollar microscope and a novel technique developed by three Nobel Prize-winning biophysicists called cryo-electron microscopy (Cryo-EM) to view membrane protein channels — or transportation tunnels in cell walls — at the atomic level. This allowed Reichow’s team, whose research is supported by the National Institutes of Health, to create a 3-D image of the membrane channel to better understand the processes involved in cell-to-cell communication.

Portland State researchers used Cryo-EM — a microscope technique that freezes biomolecules in mid-movement and takes ultra-high-resolution images — and computer modeling to see the 3-D structure of gap junction proteins that had been isolated from eye lenses. Gap junctions are tiny channels that allow neighboring cells to communicate with one another and are found in many places throughout the body.

Full story at Science Daily

Weightlifting is good for your heart and it doesn’t take much

Lifting weights for less than an hour a week may reduce your risk for a heart attack or stroke by 40 to 70 percent, according to a new Iowa State University study. Spending more than an hour in the weight room did not yield any additional benefit, the researchers found.

“People may think they need to spend a lot of time lifting weights, but just two sets of bench presses that take less than 5 minutes could be effective,” said DC (Duck-chul) Lee, associate professor of kinesiology.

The results — some of the first to look at resistance exercise and cardiovascular disease — show benefits of strength training are independent of running, walking or other aerobic activity. In other words, you do not have to meet the recommended guidelines for aerobic physical activity to lower your risk; weight training alone is enough. The study is published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.

Lee and his colleagues analyzed data of nearly 13,000 adults in the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study. They measured three health outcomes: cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke that did not result in death, all cardiovascular events including death and any type of death. Lee says resistance exercise reduced the risk for all three.

Full story at Science Daily

Bacterial pneumonia far more dangerous to the heart than viral pneumonia

Heart complications in patients diagnosed with bacterial pneumonia are more serious than in patients diagnosed with viral pneumonia, according to new research from the Intermountain Heart Institute at Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City.

In the study of nearly 5,000 patients, researchers found that patients diagnosed with bacterial pneumonia had a 60 percent greater risk of a heart attack, stroke, or death than patients who had been diagnosed with viral pneumonia.

“We’ve always known pneumonia was a risk factor for a major adverse cardiac event, like a heart attack, within the first 90 days of being diagnosed,” said J. Brent Muhlestein, MD, a cardiovascular researcher with the Intermountain Heart Institute at Intermountain Medical Center. “What we didn’t know was which type of pneumonia was more dangerous. The results of this study provided a clear answer, which will allow physicians to better monitor patients and focus on reducing their risk of a major adverse cardiac event.”

Full story at Science Daily

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

Study: Half of Women, One-Third of Men Will Develop Dementia, Parkinson’s or Stroke

ALMOST HALF OF WOMEN and more than one-third of men will develop Parkinson’s disease, dementia or suffer a stroke after age 45.

A new study published Tuesday in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry examined 12,102 people aged 45 and older from 1990 through 2016 to observe their lifetime risk of these diseases. Researchers found that 1,489 people were diagnosed with dementia, 1,285 had a stroke and 263 were diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

Women are more likely than men to experience any of these conditions. A woman’s lifetime risk for any one of the three is 48.2 percent, compared to 36.3 percent for men. Among the participants, 438 of them, 14.6 percent developed multiple conditions, with women more likely to suffer from disease co-occurrence. Women were nearly twice as likely as men to suffer both a stroke and to be diagnosed with dementia – 2.9 percent of women compared to 1.9 percent of men.

Full story at US News

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.

Full story at Science Daily