Statins are a type of medication used to lower the level of bad cholesterol in the blood and reduce build-up in arteries that can cause a heart attack or stroke. This short animated video explains the importance of statins, how they work, and why your doctor may prescribe them.
Stroke is far more common than you might realize, affecting more than 795,000 people in the U.S. every year. It is a leading cause of death and long-term disability. Yet until now, treatment options have been limited, despite the prevalence and severity of stroke.
Not so long ago, doctors didn’t have much more to offer stroke victims than empathy, says Kevin Sheth, MD, Division Chief of Neurocritical Care and Emergency Neurology. “There wasn’t much you could do.” But that is changing. Recent breakthroughs offer new hope to patients and families. Beating the Clock Think of stroke as a plumbing problem in the brain. It occurs when there is a disruption of blood flow, either because of a vessel blockage (ischemic stroke) or rupture (hemorrhagic stroke).
In both cases, the interruption of blood flow starves brain cells of oxygen, causing them to become damaged and die. Delivering medical interventions early after a stroke can mean the difference between a full recovery and significant disability or death. Time matters. Unfortunately, stroke care often bottlenecks in the first stage: diagnosis. Sometimes, it’s a logistical issue; to identify the type, size, and location of a stroke requires MRI imaging, and the machinery itself can be difficult to access.
MRIs use powerful magnets to create detailed images of the body, which means they must be kept in bunker-type rooms, typically located in hospital basements. As a result, there is often a delay in getting MRI scans for stroke patients. Dr. Sheth collaborated with a group of doctors and engineers to develop a portable MRI machine. Though it captures the images doctors need to properly diagnose stroke, it uses a less powerful magnet. It is lightweight and can be easily wheeled to a patient’s bedside.
“It’s a paradigm shift – from taking a sick patient to the MRI to taking an MRI to a sick patient,” says Dr. Sheth. Stopping the Damage Once a stroke has been diagnosed, the work of mitigating the damage can begin. “Brain tissue is very vulnerable during the first hours after stroke,” says vascular neurologist Nils Petersen, MD. He and his team are using advanced neuro-monitoring technology to study how to manage a patient’s blood pressure in the very acute phase after a stroke.
Dr. Petersen’s research shows that optimal stroke treatment depends on personalization of blood pressure parameters. But calculating the ideal blood pressure for the minutes and hours after a patient has a stroke can be complicated. It depends on a variety of factors—it is not a one-size-fits-all scenario. Harnessing the Immune System Launching an inflammatory reaction is how the body responds to injury anywhere in the body – including the brain, following stroke. However, in this case, the resulting inflammation can sometimes cause even more damage.
But what if that immune response could be used to the patient’s advantage? “We’re trying to understand how we can harness the immune system’s knowledge about how to repair tissues after they’ve been injured,” says Lauren Sansing, MD, Academic Chief of the Division of Stroke and Vascular Neurology. Her team is working to understand the biological signals guiding the immune response to stroke.
That knowledge can then direct the development of targeted therapeutics for the treatment of stroke that minimize early injury and enhance recovery. “We want to be able to lead research efforts that change the lives of patients around the world,” says Dr. Sansing.
Learn about these developments and more in the video above.
Dietary patterns with a higher proinflammatory potential were associated with higher CVD risk. Reducing the inflammatory potential of the diet may potentially provide an effective strategy for CVD prevention.
Inflammation plays an important role in cardiovascular disease (CVD) development. Diet modulates inflammation; however, it remains unknown whether dietary patterns with higher inflammatory potential are associated with long-term CVD risk.
Hazen and colleagues find that gut bacteria play a central role in the conversion of dietary proteins into a compound, phenylacetylglutamine ( PAGln), which not only is associated with future cardiovascular disease risk in humans but also promotes platelet responsiveness and blood clotting potentially via adrenergic receptors, according to mouse models.
This small device may change how doctors identify and manage patients with atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart rhythm that increases risk of stroke.
And the past. The device uses artificial intelligence, or AI, to not only determine if a person is in the midst of an episode of atrial fibrillation, but also it can reveal if they’ve had the irregular rhythm before or will have it in the future.
Dr. Paul Friedman and his team trained the device to detect subtle changes in the heart’s electrical signals. Then in a study, they found it can identify patients with episodic atrial fibrillation. Even when they record the heart while the rhythm is normal – something no current wearable heart monitor can do.
That’s because a heart monitor won’t detect atrial fibrillation unless you have an episode while wearing it. But in a matter of moments, the AI device can identify people with atrial fibrillation, even if their heart is in normal rhythm. Then they can get on the right treatment to help prevent life-threatening strokes from happening.
From a Wall Street Journal online article (01/14/20):
Americans are dying of heart disease and strokes at a rising rate in middle age, normally considered the prime years of life. An analysis of U.S. mortality statistics by The Wall Street Journal shows the problem is geographically widespread.
Death rates from cardiovascular disease among people between the ages of 45 and 64 are rising in cities all across the country, including in some of the most unlikely places.
In the Journal’s analysis, three metro areas east of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains—Colorado Springs, Fort Collins and Greeley—recorded some of the biggest increases. Death rates in each rose almost 25%. The three cities boast robust access to exercise and health care. There are bike trails, good heart-disease treatment-and-prevention programs and nearby skiing and hiking.
From a European Heart Journal study:
When the five sleep factors were collapsed into binary categories of low risk vs. high risk (reference group), early chronotype, adequate sleep duration, free of insomnia, and no frequent daytime sleepiness were each independently associated with incident CVD, with a 7%, 12%, 8%, and 15% lower risk, respectively (Table 3). Early chronotype, adequate sleep duration, and free of insomnia were independently associated with a significantly reduced risk of CHD; while only adequate sleep duration was associated with stroke.Cardiovascular disease (CVD), including coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke, is among the leading causes of mortality globally.1 In addition to traditional lifestyle behaviours, emerging evidence has implicated several unhealthy sleep behaviours were important risk factors for CVD.2,3 For example, short or long sleep duration,4–9 late chronotype,10,11 insomnia,12–17 snoring,18,19 and excessive daytime sleepiness20,21 were associated with a 10–40% increased CVD risk.