Eating tomatoes in your daily salad or regularly enjoying a healthy red sauce on your spaghetti could help reduce your risk of stroke, according to research published this week in the journal Neurology. Tomatoes contain a powerful antioxidant that is good for brain health, the researchers say, and cooked tomatoes seem to offer more protection than raw.
“This study adds to the evidence that a diet high in fruits and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of stroke,” says study author Jouni Karppi, of the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio. “A diet containing tomatoes… a few times a week would be good for our health. However, daily intake of tomatoes may give better protection.”
Karppi says it’s the chemical lycopene that gives tomatoes and other fruits/vegetables their rich red color, that is helping to protect the brain. Tomatoes are particularly high in the powerful antioxidant that acts like a sponge, soaking up rogue molecules called free radicals that if left unchecked can damage cells. Lycopene has attracted a lot of attention in recent years because it’s such a powerful antioxidant. If we don’t eat enough lycopene-packed foods, experts suspect too many free radicals get left in the body, damaging blood vessels by helping to form fatty deposits. When these deposits build up, a blockage forms. If that vessel is in the brain, the blockage can cause a stroke.
One in seven strokes happens at night, and sufferers may not get medicine that could prevent brain damage, suggests a new study.
“These kinds of strokes are common — about 15% of all strokes. That’s a substantial amount of people,” says study author Jason Mackey, a stroke researcher at the University of Cincinnati.
Mackey says “wake-up” stroke sufferers are more likely to miss out on a potentially life-saving clot-busting medication called tissue plasminogen activator, or TPA, that can only be given within the first few hours after stroke symptoms begin. Given beyond that window, it could cause complications.
For the study, researchers analyzed data from 1,854 patients over 18 who had been treated in hospital emergency departments in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky over the course of a year for ischemic strokes. These are caused by clots in the arteries of the brain that block blood flow, and are the most common type of stroke.
Mackey and his colleagues found that 273 patients experienced wake-up strokes. When translated to the greater population, that figure suggests approximately 58,000 people a year, he says.
Even though it’s difficult to know when a wake-up stroke first occurred, getting speedy medical care is critical. “The most important thing is if you suspect you’re having a stroke, call 911,” he says.
After a stroke, you may have:
-Physical difficulties (particularly in the arm, leg, and face on one side of the body)
-Cognitive (thinking) problems
-Speech and language problems You can expect some degree of “spontaneous recovery” in the days, weeks, and months immediately following the stroke. During this time, physical, cognitive, and communication deficits may improve on their own as the brain heals. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology services can enhance this spontaneous recovery. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are trained to work with people with a variety of speech and language disorders, including aphasia, dysarthria, and apraxia. An SLP can help the person improve communication skills beyond what will naturally occur after the stroke. SLPs also teach strategies to overcome communication deficits. If you experience a stroke, you should expect some degree of spontaneous recovery in the first 6 months or so after the stroke. Recovery may continue for over a year. Your degree of recovery depends on the severity and location of the stroke. It is very difficult to predict. Many times, improvements in physical abilities occur more rapidly than in communication and cannot be used as a predictor for future speech and language improvements.
The use of a hands-free ultrasound device in combination with a clot-busting drug appears safe for patients with a common kind of stroke, a small, new study finds. An ischemic stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked. When this happens, the hands-free ultrasound device is placed on the patient’s head and delivers ultrasound to boost the effectiveness of the clot-busting medicine tPA (tissue plasminogen activator).
The new trial was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and was published Oct. 24 in the journal Stroke. “Our goal is to open up more arteries in the brain and help stroke patients recover,” study author Dr. Andrew Barreto, an assistant professor of neurology in the Stroke Program at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, said in a journal news release.