New Info on Strokes

| August 17, 2011 | 0 Comments

New information released on Wednesday will prove enlightening to cardiologists suspecting patients have symptoms of stroke.  Some of the news is troubling but much good news is also revealed.

800,000 Americans suffer strokes every year.  Approximately one-sixth of those sufferers die from the stroke.  A large majority of the survivors are permanently disabled.

A new test was performed by the Academic Teaching Hospital Wagner-Jauregg in Linz, Austria.  Raffi Topaskina announced the findings.  Our study suggests that we can identify those few subjects who are candidates for carotid surgery due to their high risk despite best medical treatment.”

The new test consists of two types of ultrasounds; one for the carotid arteries leading to the brain and used to supply the brain with blood and the other on one artery in the brain itself.  The test takes about an hour. Both ultrasounds are available at most hospitals but Topaskina warned that the brain ultrasound is very difficult to interpret.

In the U.S. and Canada, too many patients receive surgery for cleansing the cholesterol buildup.  This is a common practice even if the patient has no symptoms. 

One classification of the study involved 428 persons who had no symptoms but who had clogged carotid arteries or carotid stenosis (plaque) and received the dual ultrasound testing.  The patients were then tracked for two years.

For patients who showed warning signs on both scans, nine percent had strokes.  Patients who showed no warning signs on the scans amounted to 94 percent of the tested patients.  Less than one percent of these patients had a stroke within the two years and in later years. 

Clogged carotid arteries are a high risk factor for strokes.  The problem is that many physicians believe the carotid surgery to be high risk.  The new test is to identify patients who really need the surgery.  Those who do not test negatively should not undergo the surgery.

On the whole, only two percent of the symptom-free population that tests positive suffers a stroke each year.  These patients are now being treated with medications and diet modifications. Carotid surgery by experts on patients who tested positive on both ultrasounds leads to strokes in 3 percent of the patients.

David Spence, of the University of Wisconsin Ontario London in Canada, said, “There is an important story to be told about the unnecessary carotid surgery and stenting in the U.S.

Topkarian summarized the results by saying, “The tests are practically risk-free.  The consequences are not.”

Potassium Helps Prevent Stroke

Another survey released today strongly suggests that high-potassium fruits, vegetables and dairy products are much less likely in patients who regularly digest these products.  The report, published in the journal STROKE, accumulated data from 10 international countries and included 200,000 middle-aged and older adults.

The report indicates that for each 1,000-milligram intake of potassium on a daily basis, the odds of suffering a stroke in the next 14 years dropped by 11 percent.  Susanna Larsson of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm reported, “Dietary potassium foods intake is inversely associated with risk of stroke.”

Potassium is an electrolyte needed for maintaining the body’s fluid balance.  Potassium is also involved in nerve and muscle control.

Heart transplant patients or any patients using lasix are very prone to low potassium rates.  Potassium pills may well be prescribed to compliment the loss of potassium with lasix.  Those are those too big to swallow pills that are best halved before attempting to swallow.

Of approximately 270,000 patients tested by Larsson and company, 8,695 (about one in thirty) suffered strokes.  80 percent of stroke victims are caused by blockage to the brain.  The study included various ages, some smokers and varying exercise routines.  

Patients who had blockage in an artery in the brain were not impacted by the potassium intake.  In the U.S., The Center for Disease Control suggests that the daily intake of potassium should be about 4,700 mg per day.  The CDC warns patients with kidney disease and patients on blood pressure medications to be careful with potassium intake and suggest regular blood testing.


Filed in: The Heart

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