Clot Removal Appears No Better Than Standard Therapy for Ischemic Stroke

A new study shows that invasive blood clot removal is no more effective than standard treatment for severe ischemic stroke, even in patients with more functional brain tissue. (Image: Donald Erickson/iStockphoto.com)

A new study shows that invasive blood clot removal is no more effective than standard treatment for severe ischemic stroke, even in patients with more functional brain tissue. (Image: Donald Erickson/iStockphoto.com

It seems logical that patients with more functional brain tissue after a severe ischemic stroke would reap greater benefits from removing the triggering clot than survivors with less viable tissue. But research presented today at the International Stroke Conference in Honolulu showed that clot removal was no more effective than standard antiplatelet therapy such as aspirin, even when researchers used brain scans to determine which patients with sufficient viable tissue might benefit from clot removal. Continue reading

Finding a Better Barometer of Heart Attack, Stroke Risk

Heart scans can detect coronary artery calcium (arrowhead), which is shown in a new study to better predict heart attack and stroke risk than C-reactive protein. (Image: Allen J. Taylor, MD/Washington Hospital Center)

Looking for calcium in the coronary arteries of people with normal levels of “bad” cholesterol is a more accurate way to predict their risk of having a heart attack or stroke than testing their blood for a marker of inflammation, according to a new study. The findings could help physicians fine-tune important decisions about which patients need cholesterol-lowering statin medications.

The study, published online today in The Lancet, included 2083 adults with normal levels of harmful low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) who didn’t have cardiovascular disease. The study was designed as a kind of sequel to a 2008 study known as JUPITER, or Justification for the Use of Statins in Prevention: An Intervention Trial Evaluating Rosuvstatin. Continue reading

Heart Disease Risks Are Linked With Dementia

Brain imaging may be useful in diagnosing vascular dementia, but its role is not yet clearly defined, according to a new scientific statement. (Image: Hayden Bird)

A group of experts has developed a roadmap to help physicians recognize that many of the same risk factors that cause heart disease also can lead to vascular dementia in the elderly.

The scientific statement from the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association suggests that controlling many of the risks associated with heart disease—high blood pressure, high blood glucose, high cholesterol levels, smoking, and excess weight—may reduce the risk of vascular cognitive decline and dementia. The statement was released online today in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

“What is good for the heart is good for the brain,” said Philip Gorelick, MD, MPH, co-chair of the group that wrote the document and director of the Center for Stroke Research at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago, in a statement.

Blood vessels clogged with plaque can restrict blood flow not only to the heart, but also to the brain. The result is cerebrovascular disease, which may cause stroke or other types of brain injuries that can lead to cognitive decline, dementia, or Alzheimer disease. Continue reading

A Workout for the Brain

Moderate-to-intense exercise such as bicycling might prevent tissue death in the brain resulting from a silent stroke. (Image: diego cervo/iStockphoto.com)

Moderate-to-intense exercise is more than a good workout for the heart, muscles, and bones. It might help prevent so-called silent strokes, according to a new study.

Researchers report in today’s Neurology that higher intensity exercise—tennis, swimming, jogging, or racquetball, for example—helps to reduce the risk of silent strokes, which are linked with an increased likelihood of falls, memory problems, dementia, and the risk of a subsequent major stroke. In a silent stroke, also called an infarction, a small region of brain tissue dies but there are no outward symptoms. Continue reading