The health benefits of vitamin B
Stroke is a leading cause of death in the United States, killing nearly 130,000 people each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More than 795,000 Americans have a stroke annually.
So any news on how to prevent the brain attack, can be welcome. Health experts say controlling your blood pressure, quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly are some of the most common ways to avoid stroke.
Now, Chinese researchers say vitamin B may reduce your risk.
Analyzing more than a dozen clinical trials involving nearly 55,000 people, study leaders found that participants who took vitamin B supplements lowered their risk of stroke by seven percent. But they also found that taking the supplements had no effect on the severity of strokes or the risk of dying.
The findings were published this month in the online issue of Neurology.
“Based on our results, the ability of vitamin B to reduce stroke risk may be influenced by a number of other factors such as the body’s absorption rate, the amount of folic acid or vitamin B12 concentration in the blood, and whether a person has kidney disease or high blood pressure,” study leaders said in a news release.
Our bodies need vitamin B6 for a healthy metabolism and brain development and to bolster our immune system, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In addition to supplements, vitamin B6 can be found in poultry, fish, organ meats, among other foods, says the NIH.
The report may raise awareness about the dangers of stroke. Study leaders recommend that you consult with your physician before taking any supplements.
What happens during a stroke?
“A stroke is a brain attack,” explains Dr. Sunil Chauhan, a neurologist with the Advocate Medical Group. “Strokes can be caused by the lack of blood flow to the brain, due to a clot, or a ruptured blood vessel. Those who survive a stroke may have to contend with partial paralysis, speech/language and vision problems, and memory loss.”
For those having a stroke, time is of the essence, says Dr. Chauhan.
“The best thing to do is to call 9-1-1, rather than calling a friend, your doctor or any other family member. Come to the emergency room, because two million cells die every minute you wait.”
A quick way to spot signs of stroke is to remember the acronym F.A.S.T., says Dr. Chauhan.
- Face: Does the face look uneven? Ask the person to smile.
- Arm: Does one arm drift down? Ask the person to raise both arms.
- Speech: Does the person’s speech sound strange or slurred, or is the person unable to speak? Ask the person to repeat a phrase.
- Time: Time is critical. Call 911 at the first sign of stroke.
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