ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Needling Away Your Headaches With Acupuncture
Spot light on Dani Antman New Lionheart teacher
Yoga May Bring Calm to Breast Cancer Treatment
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Low Vitamin D Raises Women's Hip Fracture Risk
Living Near Major Road May Boost Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk
Tips to Ease an Aching Back
CANCER
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
Lifting Weights Can Ease Arm Swelling in Breast Cancer Survivors
Red Meat No No No But Oily Fish Yes Yes Yes
CAREGIVING
More Than 60,000 Patients Risked Hepatitis Infections
Reduce Suffering, Urge Heart Failure Patients and Caregivers
Diabetes Epidemic Now Poses Challenges for Nursing Homes
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
High Blood Fat Levels Common in Americans
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
COSMETIC
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Care Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes and Its Complications
An Oral Approach to Heart Disease
Dental Implants Need More Work Than Root Canals
DIABETES
Drug May Not Help Diabetes-Related Eye Damage
Whole Grains Take a Bite Out of Type 2 Diabetes Risk
Study Shows Turmeric May Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Eating in America Still Unhealthy
Regular Yoga May Improve Eating Habits
Breakfast Eggs Keep Folks on Diet
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Vest Monitors 'Individual' Air Pollution
Exposure to 9/11 Fumes Tied to Chronic Headaches
What's Cookin'? It Could Be Air Pollution
EYE CARE, VISION
Cases of Age-Related Farsightedness to Soar
Eye Test Could Spot Diabetes Vision Trouble Early
Stem Cells Repair Damaged Corneas in Mice
FITNESS
Be Healthy, Spend Less
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
Marathoners Go the Distance on Heart Health
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
GENERAL HEALTH
Parents Influence Sex Decisions, Hispanic Teens Say
Vitamin E Helps Treat Common Liver Disease
Internet Program Helps Problem Drinkers
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Vitamin B3 May Help Repair Brain After a Stroke
Walk Long, Slow and Often to Help the Heart
Fructose Boosts Blood Pressure, Studies Find
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
MEN'S HEALTH
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
MENTAL HEALTH
Cinnamon Breaks Up Brain Plaques, May Hold Key to Fighting Alzheimer’s
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
Using the Mind to Heal the Heart
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
SENIORS
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Rapid Weight Loss in Seniors Signals Higher Dementia Risk
As You Age, Better Health Means Better Sex
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Lifting Weights Can Ease Arm Swelling in Breast Cancer Survivors
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
Flame-Retardant Chemical Linked to Conception Problems
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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