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Anemia makes strokes more dangerous

Posted by RHHAdmin on Feb 6, 2012 8:55:00 AM

People who have anemia are more than three times more likely to die a year after having a stroke than those who are not anemic, according to recent research presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2012.

Anemia is a condition in which the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells, which makes it difficult to carry enough oxygen to its tissues, causing fatigue, according to the Mayo Clinic. In the past, this health condition was proven to increase the chance of death following a heart attack, heart failure or kidney disease.

This study included medical records of 3,750 men treated for their first ischemic stroke, which occurs when a blood vessel to the brain is blocked. Researchers collected data from 131 Veterans Health Administration facilities in 2007.

In comparison to stroke survivors who did not have anemia, patients who were severely anemic were 3.5 times more likely to die while still in the hospital, and 2.5 times more likely to die within a year of the event. The numbers dropped depending on the level of anemia. Thos study proves the importance of home care after a stroke, particularly if the patient is anemic. Study authors pointed out that stroke patients with anemia and their doctors may want to take extra precautions and treat any modifiable causes for the blood condition.

There are different types of anemia with various causes, according to the Mayo Clinic. Some are genetic or associated with other more serious conditions like chronic diseases. The most common types, however, are caused by a deficiency of iron and vitamin B-12. Without enough iron, the bone marrow cannot make enough hemoglobin for red blood cells. Without vitamin B-12, the body cannot create red blood cells.

For these types of anemia, changes in diet or dietary supplements can be hugely beneficial to the patient. Individuals may be advised to take an iron supplement, or stock up on iron-rich foods. WebMD.com reports that dark, leafy greens, dried fruits, mollusks, beans, lentils and chickpeas are all good sources of iron. When the anemia is caused by a vitamin B-12 deficiency, doctors may recommend folic acid supplements or foods like salmon, sardines and yogurt. Whole Foods reports that venison, beef, lamb, calf liver and shrimp also have high levels of vitamin B-12.

Topics: Health News, Stroke