When a stroke strikes, time is of the essence. Stroke patients need targeted medical intervention within the first couple of hours to prevent brain cell death and help save lives.
But long-term stroke prevention also needs a head start. The sooner we reduce stroke risk factors, the better our chances of avoiding this all-too-common event. Since strokes fall under the category of chronic cardiovascular disease — a slow-moving condition — they require long-term solutions. Diet and lifestyle changes, along with specific supplements, offer ongoing support to reduce not just stroke risks, but other cardiovascular risks as well. The goal is to decrease chronic inflammation and combat free radicals, while supporting strong circulation and healthy cholesterol levels.
And the sooner you get started, the better — for all areas of health.
Chronic inflammation combined with other dangers such as excess free radicals, elevated LDL (bad) cholesterol, oxidized cholesterol and high lipoprotein in the blood can be deadly over time. Together, they cause fatty plaque deposits to build up on artery walls, reducing blood flow. Plaque formations can also break free from their original site and block circulation elsewhere. This artery-clogging process — called atherosclerosis — is a primary cause of strokes and heart attacks. Smoking, eating processed foods, chronic stress and obesity increase the risks.
So, one of the most important steps in stroke prevention (and overall cardiovascular health), is to control arterial plaque to prevent blockages of blood to the brain. Stroke prevention also requires that we strengthen circulation by improving vascular health and reducing blood viscosity (thickness). In my clinical practice, there are several targeted supplements I recommend for this, along with diet and lifestyle measures discussed below.
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Tibetan Herbal Secret and Other Proven Anti-Stroke Remedies
One of the most researched supplements with over fifty years of published research is a Tibetan herbal formula containing 19 botanicals including Icelandic moss, neem fruit and costus root. This formula is shown in numerous published studies to control chronic inflammation, improve circulation and reduce arterial plaque, among many other benefits. It also offers powerful antioxidant and immune support.
The enzyme nattokinase derived from natto, a fermented soy product, is shown to improve circulation and help to dissolve blood clots. Aged garlic can promote healthy blood lipid levels and support cardiovascular health. Ginger extracts may reduce atherosclerosis and improve cholesterol, while supporting cardiovascular health. Also important, vitamin D deficiency has been found in many stroke victims, so supplementation with this critical nutrient may also help prevent strokes by strengthening the cardiovascular system.
Another recommended supplement is Modified Citrus Pectin, derived from the pith of citrus peels and modified for enhanced absorption and activity throughout the body. Modified Citrus Pectin is gaining a reputation because of its ability to block excess galectin-3, a pro-inflammatory protein in the body. At elevated levels, galectin-3 fuels chronic inflammation and fibrosis, and is involved in the formation of arterial plaque in particular and cardiovascular disease in general.
Strong preclinical research also shows that the botanical extract honokiol offers protection against a number of neurological problems, including protection against stroke damage. Honokiol is derived from the bark of the magnolia tree, a commonly used herb in Traditional Asian medicine. In addition to being a powerful anti-inflammatory and cellular health agent, pure honokiol can cross the blood-brain barrier and offer neurological benefits as well as relaxation and relief from anxiety, without causing dependency or drowsiness.
FREE Wellness Guide on Modified Citrus Pectin — download PDF opens in a new windowhere!
What to Eat to Beat Strokes
A low sodium, anti-inflammatory diet emphasizing vegetables, healthy fats, and high-quality protein such as sprouted legumes, seeds and grains and free-range meats and eggs, is shown to offer significant protection against strokes and cardiovascular disease. Good hydration, targeted supplements, regular exercise, adequate sleep and healthy stress relief are equally important. Combined, these measures can keep us vibrant and healthy over the long term, adding precious time and quality to our ledger of life.
The Mind-Body Connection
Mind-body relaxation practices such as mindful opens in a new windowmeditation may be particularly effective in improving cardiovascular health and reducing risk factors for heart attacks and strokes. In addition to the stress-relieving benefits of mindful meditation and other related practices such as yoga and Tai Chi, these time-honored exercises are shown in multiple studies to directly benefit cardiovascular function, reduce inflammatory markers, improve immune function and support cognitive health and emotional wellbeing.
Once a stroke has occurred, the clock starts ticking and every second matters. If you notice any of these signs of a stroke, remember the FAST acronym and get to the emergency room immediately:
Face: Drooping on one or both sides
Arms: Weakness or difficulty raising
Speech: Slurred or difficult
Time: Call 911!
Other sudden symptoms can also indicate a stroke: numbness in the face, arm or leg or on one side of the body, confusion or disorientation, dizziness, vision problems, headache, trouble walking. If possible, record the time symptoms began – this can help guide treatment. Remember, when it comes to strokes, early intervention can make a world of difference!
For a list of cardiovascular studies, click here.