A stroke can alter behavior

According to a recent study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience that was conducted on rats, having a stroke can alter behavior and may lead to cognitive disabilities such as dementia over a long period of time. These detrimental effects may be avoided through the use of a drug known as memantine.

“The brain is incredibly dense with vasculature. It was surprising that blocking one small vessel could have a discernable impact on the behavior of a rat,” said lead study author Andy Y. Shih, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the Medical University of South Carolina.

The research investigators caused brain damage in test rats by inducing blood clots through the use of a laser light. The thirsty rats were trained to complete an obstacle course in the dark using one whisker in order to get to water. The rats with brain damage had trouble jumping from one platform to the other when the gap between them was longer than their snouts could reach.

The rats were then administered memantine, which is prescribed to Alzheimer’s patients in order to slow memory loss. The effects of the brain damage were improved along with the rats’ behavior.

Study co-author Patrick D. Lyden, M.D., chair of the department of neurology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, noted that the research indicated that even a minute stroke can cause disabilities and eventually lead to cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s.

Shih also reported that he plans to develop methods for detecting the micro-lesions in patients using MRI technology, which would allow doctors to treat dementia.

Stroke prevention
According to the National Stroke Association (NSA), anyone can have a stroke, but nearly 80 percent of them can be prevented with a physician’s guidance and healthy lifestyle choices. The source recommends monitoring blood pressure, which can be checked by a doctor, at a pharmacy or at a health fair. People should also stop smoking and abstain from drinking heavily. Smoking makes a person twice as likely to have a stroke because it damages blood vessels and causes arterial clogging.

The NSA also suggests that people check their cholesterol levels – an excess amount of cholesterol can cause arterial clogging. Cholesterol comes from food, and dieting can help curb the problem. The Mayo Clinic recommends eating oatmeal and other foods that are rich in fiber, walnuts, almonds and olive oil. Omega-3 fatty acids are also conducive to lowering cholesterol – they can be found in chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp milk and an Omegakrill supplement from Dr. Newton’s Naturals.

The NSA also notes that people should make sure to get proper amounts of folic acid, which is found in lentils, chickpeas, asparagus, fortified bread, pasta and rice. Vitamin B12 and B6 can also help ward off strokes. These nutrients are in fortified cereals and milk as well as a Sublingual B-12 Advantage supplement from Dr. Newton’s Naturals.

A regular exercise regimen can also be helpful for stroke prevention, reports the NSA. This can help combat obesity, which may be indicative of high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes, which is another risk factor for stroke. The NSA notes that people only need to walk for 30 minutes a day in order to experience exercise’s cardiovascular benefits. Other recommended activities include biking, swimming, golfing, tennis, dancing and aerobics.

Knowing the signs of a stroke
When having a stroke, getting medical attention as soon as possible is crucial for preventing brain injury, which is why people should know symptoms of stroke. These include numbness in the face, arm or leg on one side of the body. Stroke victims may also have trouble formulating words, issues seeing with both eyes, dizziness and severe headaches.