Stroke, CVA , TIA

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Stroke, Cardiovascular Accident, Transient Ischaemic attack

  • Description: A stroke is caused by poor blood supply to the brain. There are 2 types of stroke - Thrombotic stroke caused a blood clot blocking an artery feeding blood to the brain, and haemorrhagic stroke caused by a bleed into the brain (click here).
  • Thrombotic stroke - is most commonly caused by a clot or part of an atherosclerotic plaque breaking off and blocking the artery. Most commonly this comes from the carotid artery.This is ofter preceded by a transient stroke TIA where the symptoms occur for only a few minutes to hours. The Symptoms vary depending on what area of the brain is affected - weakness, paralysis, clouded consciousness, numbness or a pins and needles sensation.
  • Embolic stroke is similar but the blockage is caused by a clot usually from the heart, the most common cause of this is atrial fibrillation or from a heart valve.
  • Haemorrhagic stroke is caused by a bleed into the brain tissue caused by a ruptured artery. These are usually more severe, unconsciousness is quite common and well as the weakness, paralysis and altered sensation.

What doctors can do

  • A stroke or TIA are medical emergencies, and the patient should get to hospital as quickly as possible - because early treatment of a TIA can prevent a stroke developing, sometimes a stroke can be reversed or damage reduced by dissolving or removing the clot (thrombolysis and thrombectomy), and neurosurgery can reduce the damage caused by a haemorrhagic stroke.
  • Drugs. No drugs can affect a stroke, but afterwards the patient is usually put on aspirin and usually statin cholesterol-lowering drugs. If the blood pressure is high, then this is treated too.
  • Investigations. During the acute stroke a CT or MRI scan is usually performed to confirm the diagnosis and cause, and ultrasound of the carotid arteries and the heart (in embolic stroke) should also be done.

What you can do

  • Act immediately – this is not the time to have doubts or worry about it being a false alarm.
  • Get the patient to hospital as quickly as possible
  • Because the stroke could be due to either a clot or a bleed, it is best not to give any drugs such as aspirin.,
  • Chew a magnesium tablet (800mg) if you have one. This may reduce the blood pressure and reduce damaging spasm of the brain arteries.

After the stroke

After hospital, depending on the degree of brain damage and it's effects, many patients go to a rehabilitation ward which frequently makes a huge difference.

What doctors can do

  • Drugs. Most patients are put on aspirin, a statin drug to lower the cholesterol; and blood pressure drugs if the BP is high.

What you can do

Lifestyle

  • Exercise - this is very important, and the patient should be encouraged to use any affected limb as much as possible.
  • Diet - a good healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables is recommended. There is also increasing belief that taking coconut oil which the brain can use for energy, may also be helpful.
  • Have a good night’s sleep and if necessary have an afternoon nap for the first few weeks. Learn how to relax or even meditate, and reduce the stresses in life.

Nutritional supplements

Although there are few trials on the use of supplements after a heart attack, the powerful data on the preventive benefits of supplements probably apply.

  • A good multivitamin and multimineral provides the brain tissue with all the nutrition for efficient repair.
  • Calcium and magnesium, 800-1,000mg daily, help the reduce and artery spasm and help relaxation.
  • Vitamin D - there is increasing evidence that low vitamin D levels increase the risk of many diseases including stroke.  Sun exposure is good but most people probably require 5-8,000iu daily as a supplement as well.
  • Omega 3 fish oils − at least 1 gram daily, preferably 2-3 grams daily − much of the brain tissue is made of omega 3 oils,  and fish oils can help with both function and repair
  • Coenzyme Q10 is very important at this stage. It is essential for energy production within the cells, and low levels reduce energy. The statin drugs (Zocor, Lipex, Lipitor), used in nearly all stroke patients to lower cholesterol, also block the production of CoQ10. All people taking statin drugs should be taking Coenzyme Q10 supplements (60–200mg daily).

The Nutritional supplements I use and recommend to my patients

For Stroke patients - USANA - Cellsentials *, Biomega, Active Calcium plus, Coquinone and vitamin D -

Other therapies

There are a number of other therapies which you might like to look at.  They have not been specifically included with this disease because some are a form of treatment which is applicable to most diseases and many focus on the mind, body, spirit, and the universe. These include - acupuncture, Ayurvedic medicine, energy healing, homeopathy, naturopathy, prayer, visualisation and some people with this condition might like to look at these topics (I have described them more fully on another page on this website click here .) With my personal experience and reading, I do not think that I can comment of whether one or a number of these might help.    They fit well with most conventional and complementary treatments and I suspect some or even all of them can be extremely powerful - if performed by an experienced practitioner.    My only caveat is that if in the course of one of these therapies, you are given potions or herbs, do check with your health practitioner that they will not interfere with other treatments or drugs you are receiving.

Nutritional supplements

I believe in today's world that nutritional supplements are so necessary as to be an essential component of any form of both prevention and treatment. Not only is today's food lacking in nutrients because of the way it was grown and processed, but also most of us make the wrong choices in diet. It is virtually impossible to obtain optimal levels of most of the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients although many people try to do so, and even then fresh produce is not available all year round. *There are many quality supplements available on the market, including –Thorne, NFS, Douglas Labs, Xtend Life, True Star Health, USANA, and Metagenics. There are others, but do your due diligence before choosing one. USANA Health Sciences has added a new adjunct to its multivitamin and multi mineral called CellSentials. These are a patented blend of phyto-nutrients which they believe affects cell signaling and growth, and increases the production of preventative antioxidants within the cell. These should add to the value of the multi, so these are the multivitamin/mineral preparation I recommend.