Stroke is the number one cause of adult disability and the third leading cause of death in the U.S.
Although stroke affects people of all ages, genders and races, people over 55, males and African-Americans are at higher risk for stroke.
Controllable risk factors include obesity, smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease. With proper nutrition and abstaining from destructive behavior, one can repair the brain.
Stroke is sometimes referred to as a brain attack because it impacts the brain in much the same way a heart attack impacts the heart. Every stroke is different and is largely dependent upon the area of the brain affected and the length of time that area was without oxygen.
There Are Three Types of Strokes
Transient Ischemic Attack, or TIA as it is often called, is when a blood clot clogs an artery for a short period of time. This is sometimes called a warning stroke. The symptoms are much like a major stroke, however, they last for a shorter period of time.
- Hemoragic Stroke is when a blood vessel ruptures and bleeds deep in the brain or on the surface of the brain.
- Ischemic Stroke – About 85 percent of strokes are ischemic strokes. Ischemic strokes occur when the arteries to your brain become narrowed or blocked, causing severely reduced blood flow (ischemia).
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to your brain is interrupted or reduced. This deprives your brain of oxygen and nutrients, which can cause your brain cells to die. A stroke may be caused by a blocked artery (ischemic stroke) or the leaking or bursting of a blood vessel (hemorrhagic stroke). Some people may experience only a temporary disruption of blood flow to their brain (transient ischemic attack, or TIA).
Many factors can increase your risk of a stroke. Some factors can also increase your chances of having a heart attack. Potentially treatable stroke risk factors include:
- Lifestyle risk factors
- Being overweight or obese
- Physical inactivity
- Heavy or binge drinking
- Use of illicit drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamines
- Medical risk factors
- High blood pressure — the risk of stroke begins to increase at blood pressure readings higher than 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Your doctor will help you decide on a target blood pressure based on your age, whether you have diabetes and other factors.
- Cigarette smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke;
- High cholesterol
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea — a sleep disorder in which the oxygen level intermittently drops during the night;
- Cardiovascular disease, including heart failure, heart defects, heart infection or abnormal heart rhythm;
Other Factors Associated With a Higher Risk of Stroke
- Personal or family history of stroke, heart attack or transient ischemic attack;
- Being age 55 or older;
- Race — African-Americans have a higher risk of stroke than do people of other races.
- Gender — Men have a higher risk of stroke than women. Women are usually older when they have strokes, and they’re more likely to die of strokes than are men. Also, they may have some risk from some birth control pills or hormone therapies that include estrogen, as well as from pregnancy
Complications – Medical Conditions
A stroke can sometimes cause temporary or permanent disabilities, depending on how long the brain lacks blood flow and which part was affected. Complications may include:
- Paralysis or Loss of Muscle Movement. You may become paralyzed on one side of your body, or lose control of certain muscles, such as those on one side of your face or one arm. Physical therapy may help you return to activities hampered by paralysis, such as walking, eating and dressing.
- Difficulty Talking or Swallowing. A stroke may cause you to have less control over the way the muscles in your mouth and throat move, making it difficult for you to talk clearly (dysarthria), swallow or eat (dysphagia). You also may have difficulty with language (aphasia), including speaking or understanding speech, reading or writing. Therapy with a speech and language pathologist may help.
- Memory Loss or Thinking Difficulties. Many people who have had strokes experience some memory loss. Others may have difficulty thinking, making judgments, reasoning and understanding concepts.
- Emotional Problems. People who have had strokes may have more difficulty controlling their emotions, or they may develop depression.
- Pain. People who have had strokes may have pain, numbness or other strange sensations in parts of their bodies affected by stroke. For example, if a stroke causes you to lose feeling in your left arm, you may develop an uncomfortable tingling sensation in that arm.
- Temperature Changes. People also may be sensitive to temperature changes, especially extreme cold after a stroke. This complication is known as central stroke pain or central pain syndrome. This condition generally develops several weeks after a stroke, and it may improve over time. But because the pain is caused by a problem in your brain, rather than a physical injury, there are few treatments.
- Changes in Behavior and Self-Care Ability. People who have had strokes may become more withdrawn and less social or more impulsive. They may need help with grooming and daily chores.
Metabolic Understanding & Treatment
CDP-choline, Cytidine 5′-diphosphocholine or citicoline, is an essential intermediate in the biosynthetic pathway of the structural phospholipids of cell membranes, especially in that of phosphatidylcholine.
Oral Administration CDP-choline releases its two principle components, cytidine and choline. When administered orally, it is absorbed almost completely, and its bioavailability is approximately the same as when administered intravenously.
Once absorbed, the cytidine and choline disperse widely throughout the organism, cross the blood-brain barrier and reach the central nervous system, where they are incorporated into the phospholipid fraction of the membrane and microsomes.
CDP-choline activates the biosynthesis of structural phospholipids in the neuronal membranes, increases cerebral metabolism and acts on the levels of various neurotransmitters. Thus, it has been experimentally proven that CDP-choline increases noradrenaline, stimulates tyrosine hydroxylase activity and dopamine levels in the central nervous system, which increases in brain acetylcholine.
Due to these pharmacological activities, CDP-choline has a neuroprotective effect in situations of hypoxia and ischemia, as well as improved learning and memory performance in human and animal models of brain aging.
Stimulating Mitochondrial Activity
Furthermore, it has been demonstrated that CDP-choline restores the activity of mitochondrial ATPase and of membranal Na+/K+ ATPase, inhibits the activation of phospholipase A2 and accelerates the reabsorption of cerebral edema in various experimental models.
CDP-choline is safe, as toxicological tests have shown; it has no serious effects on the cholinergic system and it is perfectly tolerated. These pharmacological characteristics, combined with CDP-choline’s mechanisms of action, suggest that this nutrient may be suitable for the treatment of cerebral vascular disease, head trauma of varying severity and cognitive disorders of diverse etiology.
In studies carried out on the treatment of patients with head trauma, CDP-choline accelerated the recovery from post-traumatic coma and the recuperation of walking ability, achieved a better final functional result and reduced the hospital stay of these patients, in addition to improving the cognitive and memory disturbances which are observed after a head trauma of lesser severity and which constitute the disorder known as post-concussion syndrome.
Acute Cerebral Vascular Disease
In the treatment of patients with acute cerebral vascular disease of the ischemic type, CDP-choline accelerated the recovery of consciousness and motor deficit, attaining a better final result and facilitating the rehabilitation of these patients.
Senile Cognitive Impairment
The other important use for CDP-choline is in the treatment of senile cognitive impairment, which is secondary to degenerative diseases (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease) and to chronic cerebral vascular disease. In patients with chronic cerebral ischemia, CDP-choline improves scores on cognitive evaluation scales, while in patients with senile dementia of the Alzheimer’s type, it slows the disease’s evolution.
Beneficial neuroendocrine, neuroimmunomodulatory and neurophysiological effects have been described. CDP-choline has also been shown to be effective as co-therapy for Parkinson’s disease.
Healthy Lifestyle Habits to Follow
Don’t smoke or allow others to smoke around you. Limit alcohol to 2 drinks a day for men and 1 drink a day for women. Stay at a healthy weight. Being overweight makes it more likely you will develop high blood pressure, heart problems, and diabetes. These conditions make a stroke more likely.
Do activities that raise your heart rate. Get at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week. Walking is a good choice. You also may want to do other activities, such as running, swimming, cycling, or playing tennis or team sports.
Eat heart-healthy foods. These include fruits, vegetables, high-fiber foods, and foods that are low in sodium, saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol. Eat fish at least 2 times each week. Oily fish, which contain omega-3 fatty acids, are best. These fish include salmon, mackerel, lake trout, herring, and sardines.
How Vitamin D Deficiency Increases Your Stroke Risk
Research presented at the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Annual Scientific Sessions in Chicago, IL in November 2013, low levels of vitamin D—the essential nutrient obtained from exposure to sunlight—doubles the risk of stroke in Caucasians. According to research presented at the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Annual Scientific Sessions in Chicago, IL in November last year, low levels of vitamin D—the essential nutrient obtained from exposure to sunlight—doubles the risk of stroke in Caucasians.
Foods to Avoid
Trans fats should be avoided if you care about your health. This includes numerous processed foods, such as crackers, chips, most store-bought baked goods, and any fried foods, just to name a few examples. Trans fats are known to promote inflammation.
Certain preservatives, such as sodium nitrate and nitrite found in smoked and processed meats have been shown to damage your blood vessels, which could increase your risk of stroke. People who drink just one diet soda a day may increase their risk of stroke by 48 percent!
Meat Consumption – Guidelines for a Healthier Diet
- Choose organic meats that are grass-fed or free-range
- Look for “uncured” varieties that contain NO nitrates
- Choose varieties that say 100% beef, 100% chicken, etc. This is the only way to know that the meat is from a single species and does not include byproducts (like chicken skin or chicken fat)
- Avoid any meat that contains MSG, high-fructose corn syrup, preservatives, artificial flavor or artificial color.
- Ideally, purchase sausages and other processed meats from a small, local farmer who you can ask about the ingredients
- CDP-choline (cytidine-5′-diphosphocholine) is also known by its drug name, Citicholine as it is an approved drug in Europe and Japan for use in stroke, head trauma, and other neurological disorders. It is presently being evaluated in phase II/III stroke trials in the United States. (D’Orlando and Sandage 1995)
- The National Stroke Association