Synthetic cannabis (‘spice’, ‘k2’) use may boost stroke risk in young users

The warning follows their treatment of a 25 year old prison inmate who had no family history of heart disease or traditional cardiovascular risk factors, and who was left with a permanent disability.

He was brought to emergency care in a state of severe confusion, with weakness on the right side of his body and double incontinence.

Prison warders had found him collapsed on the bathroom floor and thought that he might have used synthetic marijuana as a ‘suspicious’ looking substance had been found by his side, and he had had several episodes of confusion after using ‘spice’ in the preceding six months.

He had smoked cigarettes for five years, but had given up two years previously, and tests for traditional cardiovascular risk factors were all within the normal range.

Full story at Science Daily

A deeper understanding of AFib could lower risk

More than 2.5 million Americans are living with Atrial Fibrillation (AFib). AFib is an irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications.

What doctors and researchers currently understand about treating AFib stems mainly from whether a patient has been diagnosed with the condition or not. University of Minnesota researchers are urging the medical community to take a closer look, specifically at AFib burden.

AFib burden refers to the amount of AFib that an individual has. The goal of the scientific statement published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation is to increase knowledge and awareness by healthcare professionals of effective, state-of-the-art science related to the causes, prevention, detection, management, and future research needs related to AFib burden.

Full story at Science Daily

Natural antioxidant bilirubin may improve cardiovascular health

Bilirubin, a yellow-orange pigment, is formed after the breakdown of red blood cells and is eliminated by the liver. It’s not only a sign of a bruise, it may provide cardiovascular benefits, according to a large-scale epidemiology study.

A recent analysis of health data from almost 100,000 veterans, both with and without HIV infection, found that within normal ranges, higher levels of bilirubin in the blood were associated with lower rates of heart failure, heart attack and stroke.

The results are published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Several studies have suggested that bilirubin may have beneficial effects, by acting as an antioxidant or interfering with atherosclerosis. The data from the veterans adds to this evidence, and specifically looks at people living with HIV and at an anti-HIV drug, atazanavir, known to elevate bilirubin. The researchers did not see an independent effect of atazanavir on cardiovascular risk.

Full story at Science Daily

Artificial Intelligence improves stroke and dementia diagnosis in most common brain scan

Machine learning has detected one of the commonest causes of dementia and stroke, in the most widely used form of brain scan (CT), more accurately than current methods.

New software, created by scientists at Imperial College London and the University of Edinburgh, has been able to identify and measure the severity of small vessel disease, one of the commonest causes of stroke and dementia. The study, published in Radiology, took place at Charing Cross Hospital, part of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

Researchers say that this technology can help clinicians to administer the best treatment to patients more quickly in emergency settings — and predict a person’s likelihood of developing dementia. The development may also pave the way for more personalised medicine.

Full story at Science Daily

New ‘brain health index’ can predict how well patients will do after stroke

A new computer programme developed by scientists at the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow can assess whole brain deterioration and help predict cognitive function after stroke up to ten times more accurately than current methods.

The new approach, published today in the International Journal of Stroke, can quantify visible brain injury from cerebral small vessel disease (SVD) and brain atrophy by translating the million plus bits of information stored in brain scans into a single measure, the “brain health index.”

SVD features and brain tissue atrophy both increase with age, are often present together, and are risk factors for stroke and dementia.

Full story at Science Daily

Dementia trend shows later onset with fewer years of the disease

The diagnosis is one that a family never wants to hear: Your father has Alzheimer’s disease. Your mother has stroke-related dementia.

A recently released study, included in a special supplement to the Journal of Gerontology, indicates that dementia’s impact might be compressing a bit. That is, people might be developing dementia later and living with it for a shorter period of time.

Sudha Seshadri, M.D., professor of neurology and founding director of the Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s & Neurodegenerative Diseases at UT Health San Antonio, is the senior author on the study, which draws evidence from the Framingham Heart Study.

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

Hip hop music teaches children, parents to recognize stroke and act quickly

An intervention that uses hip hop music with stroke education lyrics increased stroke awareness for economically-disadvantaged, minority children and their parents, according to new research in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke.

“The lack of stroke recognition, especially among blacks, results in dangerous delays in treatment,” said Olajide Williams, M.D., M.S., study author and associate professor of neurology at Columbia University Medical Center, New York Presbyterian Hospital. “Because of those delays, only a quarter of all stroke patients arrive at the hospital within the ideal time for clot-busting treatment.”

Stroke education is important even for children because simply calling 9-1-1 immediately when stroke symptoms start could increase the rate of optimal stroke treatment by 24 percent. Usually a witness makes the 9-1-1 call — something even a child can do.

Full story at Science Daily

Underlying cause of brain injury in stroke

New research shows how the novel drug QNZ-46 can help to lessen the effects of excess release of glutamate in the brain — the main cause of brain injury in stroke.

Published in Nature Communications, the study shows how identifying the source of damaging glutamate in stroke leads to discovery of brain protection with QNZ-46, a novel form of preventative treatment with clinical potential.

Existing studies show that restricted blood supply promotes the excess release of glutamate. The glutamate binds to receptors, over-stimulating them and leading to the break-down of myelin — the protective sheath around the nerve fibre (axon).

Full story at Science Daily

Nervous system discovery could inform stroke, pain therapies

New research published in the journal Nature for the first time reveals the atomic structure of a key molecular component of the nervous system.

Scientists at OHSU used advanced imaging techniques to ascertain the resting state of an acid-sensing ion channel. “They are really important ion channels that are spread throughout the body,” said senior author Eric Gouaux, Ph.D., senior scientist with the OHSU Vollum Institute and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. “People have pursued them as targets for stroke therapies, and they clearly have important roles in pain transduction.”

Ion channels create tiny openings in the membrane of cells throughout the body, allowing the transmission of signals in the nervous system. Acid-sensing ion channels are believed to play a role in pain sensation as well as psychiatric disorders. OHSU scientists expect the basic science research will spur new research and development into therapeutic agents targeting the channel.

Full story at Science Daily