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Stroke Studies: A Research Update

February 15, 2010
According to a preliminary study from researchers at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, Canada, to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology in April, eating chocolates may help lower the risk of stroke and may lower the risk of death after suffering a stroke. "Though more research is needed to determine whether chocolate is the contributing factor to lowering stroke risk, it is rich in antioxidants and that may have a protective effect against stroke," explains Dr. Gustavo Saposnik, a neurologist at St. Michael's Hospital. Chocolate is rich in the antioxidants called flavonoids. "We are continuing to investigate the correlation between chocolate and the risk of stroke," says Dr. Saposnik. "The preliminary data is interesting, but we need to determine whether consumption truly lowers the risk of a stroke or whether the benefit is biased based on those who are on average healthier than the general population when enrolling in a clinical trial." In a separate study on stroke conducted at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, a research group led by Professor Johan Frostegård found that the chances of suffering a stroke are linked to the presence of a certain type of antibody in the immune system: low levels of PC antibodies correlated with a higher risk of stroke, which in women accounted for an almost three-fold increase. The findings, coupled with a previous study, suggest that low levels of natural PC antibodies, which can be a condition of a poor immune system, contribute to the development of arteriosclerosis (the accumulation of plaque on the walls of blood vessels, which can rupture and form a blood clot) and its consequences, which include stroke. "We're now examining the possibility of developing new immunological treatments for arteriosclerosis and stroke, either in the form of a vaccine to stimulate the immune defense or immunization through the injection of antibodies," says Professor Frostegård.