Thinning the Blood to Prevent a Stroke

The Big Heart Disease Lie

Cardiovascular Disease Treatment News

Get Instant Access

Many doctors place their high-risk patients on anticoagulants. Various anti-clotting drugs are used, such as Plavix or Persantine. Unfortunately, these drugs also have some major complications including aplastic anemia, extreme fatigue, and even leukemia. Aspirin is safer than these prescription drugs, but it is associated with gastrointestinal hemorrhages, ulcer activation, and kidney damage.

Of greater concern is the risk of hemorrhagic strokes in persons who take aspirin regularly. One of the largest stroke-prevention studies using aspirin, the Physicians' Health Study, involved 22,000 physicians and found that patients taking aspirin had twice as many brain hemorrhages as those who did not take aspirin.

Another double-blind, randomized study involving one hundred people with TIAs, showed that those on vitamin E (400 IU) and aspirin at the same time experienced a significant reduction in strokes as compared to those on aspirin alone.316 Also, the number of hemorrhages in those on the vitamin E/aspirin combination was no higher than in patients taking aspirin alone.

The problem with taking aspirin alone to prevent either a heart attack or stroke is that aspirin does nothing to strengthen the blood vessel itself. And, weakened blood vessels usually accompany atherosclerosis, especially in smokers. With the blood thinned and the wall of the vessel weakened, you have the perfect set-up for a brain hemorrhage. So what should you do?

We know that several natural products thin the blood and strengthen blood-vessel walls. One of the most useful is the herb, Ginkgo biloba. Several components in the Ginkgo extract inhibit platelet-activating factor (PAF) in the same way that aspirin does.317 Unlike aspirin, Ginkgo also contains numerous flavonoids that protect the weakened vessel from further damage by free radicals. In addition, it directly strengthens the collagen and elastin in the blood vessel walls.3'8

Other natural products have the same effect. Pycnogenol and grape-seed extract, bind tightly to the collagen in blood vessels, protecting it from further damage both by free radicals and an enzyme called collagenase. These products have also have been shown to inhibit stress and smoking-related platelet activation, that is, clotting of the blood at sites of blood vessel injury. At a dose of 100 mg, pycnogenol was found to be extremely effective in preventing platelet activation, but did not increase bleeding, as was seen with aspirin.

Pycnogenol and grape-seed extract have the added advantage of powerfully inhibiting gluta-mate-induced excitotoxicity, which as we have seen, plays a major role in the brain injury caused by strokes. In addition, pycnogenol produces relaxation of the smooth muscle in blood vessels, thereby increasing blood flow.

The flavonoids quercetin and curcumin protect blood vessels by neutralizing free radicals, chelating iron, and inhibiting inflammation. Several studies suggest that these flavonoids may be more effective than vitamins in protecting and strengthening blood vessels. Flavonoids also have the added advantage of being powerful anti-carcinogens.

Magnesium also plays a vital role in endothelial cell function. When magnesium levels are low, cells lining the blood vessels malfunction, setting the stage for atherosclerosis. Magnesium also prevents dangerous artery spasms, which can cause strokes directly.319

Copper and zinc are also essential for maintaining the strength of blood vessels. Research has shown that animals deficient in copper develop very fragile blood vessels. Recent studies have shown that copper is important in preventing the microvessels from leaking abnormally, and in maintaining normal smooth muscle reaction in blood vessels.320 The same is true for zinc, a major nutrient needed for collagen strength. Excess copper is harmful, since, like iron, it is a major generator of free radicals. This, again, emphasizes the importance of laboratory testing of blood levels to safely correct these imbalances.

The types of fats present in the body play a major role in protection against atherosclerosis. Several studies have shown that supplementing the diet with omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the incidence of ischemic strokes. The Eskimo-population study I cited above showed that members of this group rarely experience ischemic strokes, yet, like those who take an aspirin a day, they have the highest incidence of hemorrhagic strokes in the world. This should not be surprising because, while Eskimos eat a lot of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which contain the clotting inhibitor, EPA, they also eat very few vegetables or fruits. Therefore, their bodies are deficient in necessary flavonoids and blood-vessel-strengthening vitamins and minerals.

The amino acid, taurine, may also play a vital role in preventing thrombosis. One study found that taurine supplementation significantly reduced thrombosis associated with heart attacks, and improved the effectiveness of thrombolytic enzymes (urokinase) in opening up coronary arteries following a heart attack.

Types Dialysis Table

FIGURE 10.1 Cross-section demonstrating the dramatic effect of magnesium and antioxidants on the volume of brain destroyed by a stroke. "A" shows a stroke resulting in a subject deficient in magnesium and/or antioxidants. "B" shows the same stroke model in a subject given additional magnesium and/or antioxidants. Note that the amount of brain tissue destroyed by the stroke is over 50% smaller in the subject receiving magnesium and/or antioxidants.

FIGURE 10.1 Cross-section demonstrating the dramatic effect of magnesium and antioxidants on the volume of brain destroyed by a stroke. "A" shows a stroke resulting in a subject deficient in magnesium and/or antioxidants. "B" shows the same stroke model in a subject given additional magnesium and/or antioxidants. Note that the amount of brain tissue destroyed by the stroke is over 50% smaller in the subject receiving magnesium and/or antioxidants.

Was this article helpful?

0 0
Your Heart and Nutrition

Your Heart and Nutrition

Prevention is better than a cure. Learn how to cherish your heart by taking the necessary means to keep it pumping healthily and steadily through your life.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment