Stroke Prevention and Recovery

  • 23 Aug 2011
  • Reading time 21 mins
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Strokes are the third most common cause of death in England and Wales. The good news is most of the known risk factors can be modified with simple changes in dietary and lifestyle habits.

Causes and effects of strokes

Put simply, a stroke happens when there is a disturbance in the brain’s blood supply which starves cells of oxygen and leads to cell death and a loss of brain function. There are two types of stroke; ‘ischaemic’ and ‘haemorrhagic’. ‘Ischaemic’ strokes are more common and occur when blood flow to or within the brain is blocked. This blockage could happen for a variety of reasons.

A blood clot might form in one of the four main arteries carrying blood to the brain (the right and left carotid arteries, and the right and left vertebrobasilar arteries) or in smaller arteries and capillaries within the brain. Alternatively a blood clot, fat globule or air bubble present in a blood vessel in another part of the body could be carried to the brain. ‘Haemorrhagic’ strokes are the type where a damaged or weakened artery bursts and there is bleeding into the brain.

These damaged blood vessels could be located within the brain (causing an intracerebral haemorrhage) or on the brain surface (causing a subarachnoid haemorrhage). The effects of a stroke differ simply because they depend on the area in which the blockage occurs and the size of artery affected. A stroke in the left half of the brain will affect the right side of the body and vice versa. Blockage of a main artery will result in much more damage than the blockage of a small capillary which only supplies blood to a smaller area of the brain.

Much of the damage from strokes is believed to result from the activation of various enzymes which affect phospholipids and essential fats, which are key components of brain cell membranes, and through the generation of oxidants which promote death of brain cells. When considering ways to minimise this damage and recover from a stroke it makes sense to not only improve your intake of phospholipids and essential fats but also provide a means to mop up these damaging oxidants. This is why choline, lecithin, fish oils,

B vitamins and antioxidants should form the backbone of any stroke recovery protocol. I’ll discuss these and the evidence supporting their use a bit later. How to recognise a stroke The outcomes of a stroke are pretty sobering; according to ......

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