ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Regular Yoga May Improve Eating Habits
Indian Spice May Thwart Liver Damage
Meditation, Yoga Might Switch Off Stress Genes
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Safe Toys for Dogs
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Arthritis Hits More Than Half of Diabetics
Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis
Soccer's a Winner for Building Bone Health in Girls
CANCER
Family History Key Player in Brain Cancer Risk
To Quit Smoking, Try Logging On
Method for Treating Cervical Lesions May Pose Pregnancy Risks
CAREGIVING
TV Watching Doesn't Fast-Track Baby's Skills
Stressed Health Care Workers Battle 'Compassion Fatigue'
U.S. Mental Health Spending Rises, But Many Still Left Out
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
Vitamins Do Older Women Little Good
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
COSMETIC
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
DENTAL, ORAL
Periodontal Disease Impacts Whole Health
Gum Care Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes and Its Complications
Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion
DIABETES
Coffee, Tea Might Stave Off Diabetes
Arthritis Hits More Than Half of Diabetics
Chamomile Tea May Ward Off Diabetes Damage
DIET, NUTRITION
Coffee or Tea Consumption May Lower Stroke Risk
The Best Diet? That Depends on You
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Climate Change Linked to Longer Pollen Seasons
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
Most Mt. Everest Deaths Occur Near Summit During Descent
EYE CARE, VISION
Action-Filled Video Games Boost Adult Vision
Just Like Skin, Eyes Can 'Burn' in Strong Sun
Brain Adapts to Age-Related Eye Disease
FITNESS
Walk Long, Slow and Often to Help the Heart
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
Moderate Aerobic Exercise Lowers Diabetics' Liver Fat
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
GENERAL HEALTH
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
Swine Flu Fatality Rate a 'Little Bit' Higher Than That of Seasonal Flu
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Fatty Fish May Cut Heart Failure Risk in Men
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
Boosting Vitamin D Can Do a Heart Good
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
Daily Exercise at School Yields Rewards
Winter's Bitter Cold Poses Health Dangers
MEN'S HEALTH
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
MENTAL HEALTH
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
How to Attack Holiday Stress Head-On
Chocolate a Sweet Pick-Me-Up for the Depressed
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
SENIORS
Any Old Cane Won't Do
High-Impact Activity May Be Good for Old Bones
Tai Chi May Help Ward Off Knee Pain in Seniors
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise
Add your Article

B Vitamins Might Lower Stroke Risk

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Feb. 19 (HealthDay News) -- People with heart disease who take high doses of B vitamins are somewhat less likely to suffer from stroke, especially if they're under 70, a new Canadian study suggests.

But other studies have come to opposite conclusions about whether vitamins really protect against cerebrovascular disease, noted Dr. Larry B. Goldstein, director of the Duke Stroke Center at Duke University, in Durham, N.C.

"We will need to carefully review this study in light of these other reports," said Goldstein. "There remains no evidence that general vitamin supplementation lowers risk of stroke or other cardiovascular events, and considerable evidence that it is ineffectual."

The Canadian researchers sought to determine whether high doses of three B vitamins could dampen the risk of stroke by lowering levels of an amino acid known as homocysteine.

Some research has linked high levels of the amino acid in the blood to a higher risk of stroke, although there's a debate over what this means.

The American Heart Association has made a point of not declaring high homocysteine levels to be a risk factor for heart disease or stroke. In fact, the association doesn't recommend the widespread use of B vitamin supplements to counteract any risk.

In the new study, researchers from the University of Toronto and McMaster University examined the results of a research trial that randomly assigned 5,522 adults with heart disease to either take a daily regimen of several vitamins or placebo pills for five years.

The vitamin regimen included a daily dose of 2.5 milligrams of folic acid (a type of B vitamin), 50 milligrams of vitamin B6 and 1 milligram of vitamin B12. These levels are higher than people would normally get from their diets or from multivitamins, said Lona Sandon, spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

The findings were reported Thursday at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference in San Diego.

Nearly 5 percent of the participants in the trial suffered from stroke during an average of five years of follow-up. The risk was lower in patients who followed the vitamin regimen, although the researchers described the difference as "modest."

The study's statistics suggest the vitamin therapy would help 13 out of 1,000 subjects avoid a stroke.

Several groups gained more benefit from the vitamin treatment: people younger than 70, those who had higher cholesterol and homocysteine levels at the start of the study, those from areas without folic acid fortification in food, and those who weren't receiving antiplatelet drugs (such as Plavix) or cholesterol-lowering statins at the start of the study.

The vitamin therapy didn't appear to have an effect on the severity of stroke that some of the participants suffered.

Another study presented at the same meeting found that taking recommended doses of B vitamins reduced homocysteine levels and lowered the chances of another stroke in stroke patients.

The University of California, Los Angeles, researchers collected demographic, clinical and laboratory data on more than 3,000 stroke patients at the start of the study and in follow-up visits of six, 12 and 24 months.

The vitamin group was less likely to have a recurrent stroke by the end of the two-year study (13.4 percent vs. 20.3 percent), the team found

Vitamins aside, experts said a healthy diet is the best way to guard against stroke.

"The best anti-stroke diet is high in vegetables and fruits, including high-fiber produce, low in saturated and trans fat, and higher in plant-based unsaturated fats [such as olive oil, unsalted nuts and avocado], with enough calcium, potassium and omega-3 fatty acids and at a calorie level that helps maintain a healthy weight," said Cynthia Sass, a registered dietitian in New York City.

And don't assume that you can reduce stroke risk by adding supplements to your diet for a few weeks, Sandon added.

"The benefits of vitamins and minerals are not a quick fix like prescription drugs," she said. "Vitamins and minerals must be taken in over several years to glean the benefits."

More information

Learn more about homocysteine from the American Heart Association.



SOURCES: Larry B. Goldstein, M.D., professor of medicine and director, Duke Stroke Center, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C.; Lona Sandon, M.Ed., R.D., assistant professor, clinical nutrition, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, and spokeswoman, American Dietetic Association; and Cynthia Sass, M.P.H., R.D., nutritionist, New York City; Feb. 18-19, 2009, presentations, American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference, San Diego

Last Updated: Feb. 19, 2009

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