What is a Stroke?

Diabetes, Heart, blood pressure | March 4, 2018 | Author: Naturopath

Blood pressure, cholesterol, heart, Stroke

What is a Stroke?

A stroke happens when blood flow to the brain is interrupted. This can result in speech difficulties, muscle weakness down one side of the body and a drooped mouth. A stroke is a medical emergency and prompt treatment is essential. Natural therapies can be utilised to help prevent a stroke and as an additional treatment in the recovery process.

What happens during a stroke

Like all organs, our brain requires oxygen and nutrients to function properly. If the supply of blood is restricted, brain cells begin to die and if this occurs long enough brain damage and even death is a result.

There are 3 different types of strokes:

Ischaemic strokes

This type of stroke is caused by arteries in the brain or neck becoming blocked or narrowed. This blockage cuts off the circulation of blood and oxygen to the brain. Ischaemic strokes are the most common type and account for up to 90% of all strokes. They can be further categorised into three different types:

What happens during a strokeThrombosis—a clot forms inside an artery due to a dislodged cholesterol filled plaques that starts to travel through the blood vessel. Approximately one half to two thirds of all strokes fall into this category.

Embolism—a clot that moves from one part of the body to the brain and results in an artery blockage.

Stenosis—severe narrowing of an artery leading to the brain that cuts off the proper circulation of blood and oxygen.

According to Harvard Medical School, up to one-fifth of al strokes are a lacunar stroke. It is a type of ischaemic stroke that results as a blockage in a small blood vessel deep inside the brain. The pounding pulse from high blood pressure damages these delicate blood vessels, often causing these strokes.

Treatment is usually aimed at restoring adequate blood flow to the brain by prescribing drugs that break down clots and prevent others from forming. Sometimes the clot needs to be physically removed.

Transient ischaemic attacks

Also known as a mini stroke, transient ischaemic attacks (TIA) occurs when blood flow is temporarily decreased. They often last for less than 5 minutes and usually don’t result in lasting symptoms as blood flow is eventually restored. It is still essential to seek emergency care and afterwards implement preventative measures. If you have had a mini stroke it puts you at significantly higher risk for strokes that can cause permanent damage or even death.

Haemorrhagic stroke

During a haemorrhagic stroke blood leaks into the brain because a blood vessel has ruptured. Treatment is focussed on controlling the bleeding and reducing the pressure on the brain. Drugs are usually given to reduce pressure in the brain, control overall blood pressure, prevent seizures and sudden constrictions of blood vessels.

Warning signs of a stroke

Use the “FAST” test to determine if someone is having a stroke.

Face: Smile into the mirror, does one side of the face droop?

Arms: Raise both arms above the head, does one drift or fall, or is one arm unable to raise?

Speech: Repeat a simple phrase, is speech slurred or strange?

Time: If you observe any of these signs, dial 000 or get emergency help immediately.


The best way to prevent a stroke is to address the underlying causes. This is best achieved through lifestyle and dietary changes.

Maintain a healthy weight

Losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight lowers your risk for high blood pressure and other known stroke risk factors.

Exercise regularly

Aim for 30 minutes or more of activity daily to avoid living a sedentary lifestyle. If you have already had a stroke recent research shows that regular exercise can reduce your risk of another.

Blood pressure

High blood pressure is the biggest contributor to the risk of stroke in both men and women. Consider taking hawthorn, olive leaf, L-arginine or magnesium to help reduce your blood pressure naturally.
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Cholesterol levels

Excessive LDL can cause plaque build-up in the blood vessels leading to atherosclerosis—a common stroke cause. Eat less saturated fat from animal products and consider taking a natural cholesterol lowering supplement such as beta-glucan, kyolic garlic, bergamot extract, psyllium husks or fish oil.
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Control blood sugars

Diabetes is a risk factor for stroke and even if you’ve not been diagnosed with diabetes, it’s wise to stop eating foods that cause blood sugar spikes. Start by eliminating refined sugars, grains and alcohol and incorporate more high fibre foods that help keep blood sugar levels within the normal range.
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Eat a heart healthy diet

Eat a heart healthy dietAccording to a study published in the journal Atherosclerosis, patients who didn’t adhere to a Mediterranean Diet are more likely to suffer a stroke and have a worse clinical presentation at admission to emergency care. The Mediterranean diet is rich with fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes and beans, whole grains, wild-caught salmon and other fish, olive oil, and nuts and seeds.
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Quit smoking

Smoking thickens blood, increases plaque build-up, and accelerates clot formation. Quitting smoking will significantly reduce your risk of stroke.
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Men who consume two or more drinks a day and women who consume one or more drinks per day are at an increased risk of stroke. Cirrhosis is also associated with an increased risk, particularly haemorrhagic stroke. Ideally reduce your intake of alcohol and have more alcohol-free nights.

Vitamin D

Recent studies indicate that low vitamin D levels are associated with higher risk for stroke, and worse outcomes in patients suffering from ischemic strokes. Make sure you get your vitamin D levels assessed to see whether supplementation is right for you.
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Co enzyme Q10

Co enzyme Q10Coenzyme Q10 stands among the safest supplements to protect against cardiovascular disorders. Noteworthy, CoQ10 deficiency is common in people prescribed statins to reduce cholesterol. One animal study found that coenzyme Q10 supplementation before a stroke significantly reduced the side-effects and was found to revert the stroke-induced neurodegeneration. This was due to its remarkable anti-inflammatory effects and ability to reduce cell death.
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Lakkur SJudd SE. Diet and Stroke: Recent Evidence Supporting a Mediterranean-Style Diet and Food in the Primary Prevention of Stroke. Stroke. 2015 Jul;46(7):2007-11


Makariou SE, et al. Vitamin D and stroke: promise for prevention and better outcome. Curr Vasc Pharmacol. 2014 Jan;12(1):117-24


Nasoohi S, et al. Coenzyme Q10 supplementation improves acute outcomes of stroke in rats pretreated with atorvastatin. Nutr Neurosci. 2017 Sep 26:1-9


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