— By Andrea M. Pampaloni, Ph.D.
When temperatures drop sharply, the incidence of ischemic stroke significantly increases.
This winter has produced frequent periods of freezing and sub-freezing temperatures across the country. In addition to power outages and dangerous road conditions, cold weather can bring serious health risks. When temperatures drop sharply, the incidence of ischemic stroke significantly increases.1 Obesity is also a direct, significant risk factor for ischemic stroke and also is linked to multiple other high risk factors including diabetes, hypertension, left ventricular hypertrophy, and sleep apnea.
An ischemic stroke results from a reduced or interrupted blood supply to part of the brain, which prevents brain tissue from getting oxygen and nutrients and causes brain cells to die in minutes. Further, significantly more patients who experience ischemic stroke in the winter have hypertension and large artery atherosclerotic stroke, more prolonged prothrombin time, and higher scores on the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale.
Weight Loss is Key to Stroke Prevention
Prevention is the best approach to avoid the serious ramifications from having a stroke. Weight is a modifiable stroke risk, and weight loss and exercise are among the key preventive measures that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of stroke. These lifestyle changes have the added benefit off reducing the risk off hypertension, the leading contributor to strokes in men and women, and also minimizing or even reversing the effects of diabetes.
Research increasingly supports the use a Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD) for patients with diabetes, cardiovascular risk2 and other health conditions. More specifically a recent study of severely obese patients evaluated anthropometric, biochemical, and permanent DNA damage parameters resulting from developmental and degenerative diseases, including strokes. After using a VLCD for three weeks in a hospital setting, patients experienced not only decreases in glucose, total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein, low-density lipoprotein, insulin levels and body weight, but findings also indicated a significant decrease of half of the values of DNA damage parameters.
Continued research in this area is important for the continued development of safe and effective weight loss strategies across a range off populations.