Natural antioxidants protect brain from stroke damage

April 12, 2005 Printer Friendly
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Natural antioxidants protect brain from stroke damage


Ischemic stroke

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A new paradigm for stroke prevention by William Davis, MD

Life Extension Update Exclusive

Natural antioxidants protect brain from stroke damage
The May 2005 issue of the journal Experimental Neurology revealed that antioxidants present in vegetables and fruit help protect the brain from damage incurred by stroke or other neurologic disorders.

Researchers at the University of South Florida College of Medicine and the James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital in Tampa led by neuroscientist Paula Bickford PhD fed rats diets supplemented with blueberries, spinach, the algae spirulina, or unenhanced diets. Earlier research conducted at USF had determined that consuming these foods could reverse the age-related decline in mental function in older rats.

After a month on the diets, ischemic strokes were induced in the animals, followed by return of blood flow one hour later. Greater post-stroke movement was exhibited by the animals who received supplemented diets than by those whose diets were not supplemented. When the brains of the animals were examined, it was found that rats who had received supplemented diets had areas of damage that were half the size of those of the untreated animals. Rats who received spirulina apparently experienced the greatest amount of protection, with lesions that were three-quarters smaller than those observed in the rats who did not receive supplemented diets.

The high antioxidant content of blueberries, spinach and spirulina may counteract the free radicals produced during ischemic stroke that damage the brain. These foods also contain anti-inflammatory substances that lower the amount of inflammation and resultant nerve cell injury normally caused by stroke. Dr Bickford commented, "I was amazed at the extent of neuroprotection these antioxidant-rich diets provided. The clinical implication is that increasing fruit and vegetable consumption may make a difference in the severity of a stroke. It could be a readily available, inexpensive and relatively safe way to benefit stroke patients."


Ischemic stroke
Thrombotic strokes are a major cause of “brain attacks”, and are caused in part by atherosclerosis, hypertension, and diseases that cause abnormal arterial blood clot formation (thrombosis) such as atrial fibrillation and heart valve replacement.

Recognizing stroke symptoms and realizing that the symptoms require immediate emergency treatment can save your life!

Symptoms of stroke are:

  • Sudden trouble standing or walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  • Sudden numbness of the face or weakness of arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden, very severe headaches with no known cause.

In laboratory experiments funded by the Life Extension Foundation in which severe brain ischemia is artificially induced, the addition of melatonin to a "cocktail" of antioxidants, calcium-channel antagonists and cell membrane stabilizing agents provides significant protection against brain damage. It is unfortunate that conventional emergency rooms may not incorporate melatonin into the treatment of stroke for many years to come.

A 30-year study of male twins showed that elevated blood pressure in mid-life predisposed men to accelerated brain aging and an increase in strokes later in life. Men with even mildly elevated blood pressure 25 years before showed smaller brain volumes and more strokes compared to their twin brothers who did not have the elevation in blood pressure. This study, published in the 1999 Journal of Stroke, emphasized the importance of aggressively treating elevated blood pressure even if it is not grossly abnormal.

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Life Extension Magazine April 2005

A new paradigm for stroke prevention by William Davis, MD, FACC
Reducing stroke risk by reversing carotid and aortic plaque is becoming an everyday reality, as more and better tools become available to us. To determine your own stroke risk, the best and most widely available imaging tool is carotid ultrasound, which aims to identify carotid plaque or intima-media thickness of more than 1.0 mm. Any degree of calcification of the aorta, such as that indicated by a CT heart scan, is another useful measure of risk. A prior transient ischemic attack, or “mini-stroke,” also puts you at heightened risk for future stroke.

Treatment to reduce risk is multifaceted and should examine all sources of risk, such as metabolic syndrome and levels of small LDL, lipoprotein(a), and C-reactive protein. Fish oil is the one crucial ingredient in any stroke-prevention program. Other supplements can be used in a targeted fashion, depending on the sources of carotid or aortic plaque. Ideally, repeat scanning of the carotids should be performed some years after beginning your treatment program to assess whether you have successfully reversed plaque growth.

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For longer life,

Dayna Dye
Editor, Life Extension Update
1100 West Commercial Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale FL 33309
954 766 8433 extension 7716

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