In order of predominance, the leading causes of death in the U.S. are (1) cancer (2) cardiovascular disease and (3) stroke. The main cause of strokes are blocked carotid arteries (80%) and more than half of the people who have strokes have absolutely no symptoms prior to stroke onset.
Half of the Medicare costs go directly to patients with strokes. Strokes are either caused by ischemia (poor blood flow from the carotid arteries), a clot from local or distant tissues or from a bleed (arterial hemorrhage within the brain from weakened vessels or injury).
Since most of the strokes in the US are caused by narrowing carotid arteries, we look first at preventing this. Lifestyle plays a large role here. First, make sure your blood pressure is not high. Second make sure that you have plenty of essential fatty acids in your diet. If you are at higher risk than normal (overweight, smoker, high blood pressure), consider an enzyme called nattokinase to go along with the fish oil and it works as good as taking Coumadin, better than aspirin at preventing clot formation and plaque buildup.
If you are reading this article and you or someone you know suffered a stroke, the absolute best medicine you will ever receive for this is Hyperbaric Oxygen. (See insert at end of this article). Very few hospitals will offer this care to stroke victims, yet it should absolutely be the first line treatment to restore optimal oxygenation to the starving tissue.
There are genetic predispositions to strokes that go completely unknown until the first stroke, called Atriovenous Malformation. The only way one would know of such a condition is to have an angiogram to look for backflow of the vessels or to have an MRI, which does have some false negative outcomes.
Therefore, knowing which symptoms may suggest an onset of a stroke, or a transient ischemic attack (TIA) is as follows:
* numbness or weakness of anywhere in the body
* dizziness, loss of balance
* trouble speaking or understanding speech
* severe headache
* loss of vision or sudden dimness
Prevention is key:
* If you have any of the above listed symptoms, get to a hospital within 2 hours of onset and insist upon an MRA (magnetic resonance angiography) - although expensive to your insurance company, can save your life
* If you have a family history of stroke, or if you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or are overweight, have a simple carotid artery test called a Doppler study.
* Assure that your blood pressure hasn’t changed significantly in the past year
* Assure that your cholesterol is monitored yearly and maintained at optimal ratio of good to bad cholesterol with lifestyle and supplement measures, avoiding statin drugs as much as possible
* If you suffer heart fluttering at all, have an echocardiogram to rule out atrial fribrillation.
* Use increased precaution if you smoke (with fish oil and nattokinase) and try to decrease if possible.
* Exercise daily — even if it is a simple walk around the block
* Optimize body composition, which means to increase your lean to fat ratio, regardless of your overall weight
* Be mindful of alcohol consumption and decrease when possible
* Without fail, minimize your stress as this is a major contributor to alterations in heart health, blood flow, nutrient depletion, cholesterol management etc.
* Here is an affirmation for you to use daily as well. When you say the words, feel their vibration in your cells. If you can feel them with ease and don’t notice any resistance in your body when you recite the words, you are in vibration alignment with prevention of strokes:
o Life is change, and I adapt easily to the new. I accept life – past, present and future”. [taken from You Can Heal Your Life, Louise Hay]
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and Strokes
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) works by saturating a person’s blood and plasma with oxygen resulting in increased oxygen delivery to tissues. In fact, because HBOT forces oxygen into the body under pressure, oxygen dissolves into all of the body’s fluids including the blood plasma, the lymph, and the cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. All of these fluids carry the extra oxygen to the tissues and cells of the body, even where circulation is poor or blocked.
The extra oxygen in the tissues helps the healing process in many ways, including: Enhancing the white blood cells’ activity at wound sites and ability to fight infection; promoting the development of new blood vessels for increased circulation to hypoxic areas; assisting the body to build new connective tissue in damaged areas; reducing edema by vasoconstriction; and blocking cytotoxic effects of many harmful gases/poisons.
No matter what causes a stroke, the result is a localized area of damage in the brain called an infarct. The injured area has a central core of damaged tissue that cannot be repaired, surrounded by an area that is not as heavily damaged. Between the damaged tissue and the unaffected, normal brain tissue is a zone called the penumbra. The penumbra contains dormant/idling neurons that are intact but nonfunctioning. HBOT, by providing extra oxygen under pressure, helps wake up these idling cells so they can recover their function. Once these neurons begin working again, many of the symptoms of stroke disappear.
HBOT also has many other benefits for the treatment of strokes, which include:
* Relief of oxygen starvation or hypoxia
* Increased microcirculation or capillary development to increase blood flowDecreased brain swelling or edema by constricting nearby blood vessels
* Relief of muscle spasticity
* Reduction of free radicals that continue to cause tissue damage
* Stimulation of nerve impulses through the brain and spinal cord
* Protection of the integrity of cell membranes so they can function properly