Cholesterol disturbances impair stroke recovery
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - New research suggests that people are at an increased risk of memory problems and greater disability after stroke if they have low levels of "good" HDL cholesterol and high levels of homocysteine, an amino acid acquired mostly from eating meat.
"These findings show metabolic stress plays a significant role in stroke recovery," lead author Dr. George C. Newman, from the Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, said in a statement.
The study involved 3,680 men and women over age 35 in the United States, Canada, and Scotland who had suffered a mild to moderate stroke within the past three months. All of them completed tests of brain function and disability and were followed for two years.
The researchers identified several factors that predicted memory and disability problems after stroke: increased age, non-Caucasian race, recurrent stroke, diabetes, stroke in the left side of the brain, higher levels of homocysteine and lower levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDL), otherwise known as "good" cholesterol.
"People with low levels of HDL, high levels of homocysteine, and diabetes are twice as likely as those without such problems to have poorer cognitive function and greater disability after stroke," Newman noted in a statement.
"The study also found stroke recovery was the most difficult for people over the age of 57 with high levels of homocysteine, which is a risk factor for heart problems and associated with low levels of vitamin B6, B12, folic acid and kidney disease," he added.
It's currently unclear why these factors are contributing to a slower stroke recovery and more research is needed, Newman said. "We need to focus our attention on identifying and treating these vascular risk factors since they can be modified."
SOURCE: Neurology, November 27, 2007.