Vegetable fats linked to lower stroke risks, reports say

Good News Notes:

New research has found that diets with fat from vegetable sources instead of from meat are associated with a lower risk of stroke, according to reports.

The observational study utilized 27 years of data from more than 117,000 medical professionals, pulled from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study.

According to NBC News, the study’s authors said Monday that people who ate the most vegetable and polyunsaturated fats were 12% less likely to have ischemic strokes in comparison with those who ate the least. Participants who ate the most animal fat – excluding dairy fat – were 16% more likely to have strokes than those who ate the least.

Dairy fat was not connected with increased risk. The findings, which have yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, are being presented at the American Heart Association (AHA) Scientific Sessions 2021, according to HealthDay News.

The group, led by Fenglei Wang of Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, called for “small modifications” to a diet to make a “huge” impact on public health.

Limitations to the study include that the participants were largely White health professionals and the possibility that another variable like salt could be driving risk instead.

Stroke is a leading cause of death in the U.S. and about 795,000 people across the country have a stroke every year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

About 87% of all strokes are ischemic strokes when blood flow through the artery that supplies oxygen-rich blood to the brain becomes blocked.

Transient ischemic attacks (TIA) and hemorrhagic strokes are other types of strokes

TIAs, sometimes called “mini-strokes,” are a warning sign of a future stroke and are often caused by blood clots. 

“Although brief, a TIA is a sign of a serious condition that will not go away without medical help,” the CDC notes.

Hemorrhagic strokes occur when an artery in the brain leaks blood or ruptures, damaging brain cells.

Someone in the U.S. has a stroke every 40 seconds and the risk of having a first stroke is nearly twice as high for Black people as for White people. While stroke risk increases with age, strokes can occur at any age.

High blood pressure, smoking, obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol are the leading causes of stroke.

Symptoms of a stroke include sudden confusion, severe headache, trouble walking, trouble seeing and weakness or numbness in the face, arm or leg….”

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