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Identifying and reducing stroke risk in seniors

February 18, 2014

According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly 800,000 people have a stroke each year, 75 percent of which are those over the age of 55. While the risk of stroke increases significantly as a person grows older, there have been several medical improvements that have helped individuals either cope with or reduce their risk of strokes.

New monitor may be able to better detect stroke risk
Scientists recently presented a new cardiac monitor at the American Health Association's International Stroke Conference 2014. The small implanted device detects irregular heartbeat, or atrial fibrillation, which is commonly associated with stroke risk. Researchers found the implant was effective in identifying whether a person may suffer from an ischemic stroke, which is caused by a blood clot that blocks flow to the brain. Ischemic strokes account for 80 percent of all strokes, according to the NIH, so scientists believe this implant may be significant for potential heart patients. Dr. Richard Bernstein, professor of neurology at Northwestern University and author of the study, said in a release that detecting the irregular heartbeat would be integral for providing the right treatment for people.

"Atrial fibrillation can be difficult to detect due to its sometimes intermittent nature, and the fact that it isn't always accompanied by symptoms," Bernstein said. "For a patient who has had an unexplained stroke, it's really important to determine if they have AF, because left untreated, it could result in a second and even more devastating stroke."

Bernstein added that patients with irregular heartbeats that have been identified by a physician may receive different medication than those who haven't, so the new technology may help people receive proper diagnoses.

Vitamin C could reduce risk of stroke
Oranges may contribute to a healthy lifestyle for seniors. According to new research presented by the American Academy of Neurology, Vitamin C may play a key role in preventing strokes. Scientists conducted a study in which they examined the diets of a group of seniors who had suffered from hemorrhagic strokes, or those caused by broken blood vessels. What they found was that individuals with higher levels of Vitamin C in their diets were less likely to have this type of heart disease, while those with lower amounts had an increased risk. Although they could not make a direct connection between the two, researchers hypothesized it may be due to its connection to blood pressure or protein creation.