When I was 16 years old my father suffered a debilitating stroke. Having been to the doctor and given a good bill of health only 2 weeks before, it was shock to say the very least. It was something that my family never recovered from. How could someone who was that healthy be lying on the floor? Most experts say the causes for the common stroke are still quite puzzling.
Could chocolate have prevented his stroke? Last week a Harvard study found that a couple of squares of dark chocolate a day might reduce the risk of a hemorrhagic stroke, by 52 percent.
There are two types of strokes—ischemic and hemorrhagic. An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain becomes blocked. This type of stroke accounts for about 80 percent of all strokes. Hemorrhagic strokes occur when a blood vessel in the brain bursts and bleeds into the brain which makes up about 20 percent of all strokes.
The findings were presented last week at the American Heart Association’s conference on cardiovascular disease epidemiology and prevention in San Francisco, California.
According to Dr. Martin Lajous, “The research found that the effects of a rich cocoa (about 9 grams—2 or 3 squares daily—35% cacao at a minimum—we recommend Choclatique Q-91 or Elephant Chocolate 76% cacao) on cardio vascular health seems to be through its effect on blood pressure, and the capacity to improve the flexibility of the blood vessels.”
The benefit attributed to cocoa stems from substances it contains known as flavonoids, which are believed to help protect against certain cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as blood pressure and blood clotting.
People who add such things as chocolate or red wine to their diet with the hope of helping to prevent heart disease also need to be aware that they’re taking in additional calories. So mild exercise 3 to 4 times a week is advised. If you start adding weight, you may be giving yourself additional risk factors for stroke and heart disease.
How Do You Recognize Stroke?
Symptoms of stroke appear suddenly. Watch for these symptoms and be prepared to act quickly for yourself or on behalf of someone you are with:
- • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body.
- • Sudden confusion, trouble talking, or understanding speech.
- • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
- • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination.
- • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
If you suspect you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms indicative of a stroke, do not wait. Call 911 emergency immediately.
There are now effective therapies for stroke that must be administered at a hospital, but they lose their effectiveness if not given within the first 3 hours after stroke symptoms appear. Every minute counts!
Costs of Stroke to the United States: estimated at $43 billion / year
- • Direct costs for medical care and therapy: estimated at about $28 billion / year
- • Indirect costs from lost productivity and other factors: estimated at about $15 million / year
- • Average cost of care for a patient up to 90 days after a stroke: $15,000
- • For 10% of patients, cost of care for the first 90 days after a stroke: $35,000
- • Percentage of direct cost of care for the first 90 days*:
- • Initial Hospitalization = 43%
- • Rehabilitation = 16%
- • Physician Costs = 14%
- • Hospital Readmission = 14%
- • Medications And Other Expenses = 13%
SOURCES: Martin Lajous, M.D., doctoral candidate, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston; Keith Siller, M.D., Medical Director, Comprehensive Stroke Care Center, New York University Langone Medical Center, New York City; March 3, 2010, presentation, American Heart Association’s Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention Annual Conference, San Francisco