Dr Ashish Agarwal | 12 Nov 2020 | Heartcare
If you are concerned about your cardiovascular health and your odds of suffering a heart attack or stroke, there is actually a test you can take that could point out potential risks.
It seems that a high percentage of those who have had a stroke or heart attack, also have elevated levels of an amino acid known as homocysteine in their blood stream. This amino acid is produced naturally by the body. And, it is produced in the greatest quantities by those who happen to be big meat eaters. In rare instances, however, high levels of this amino acid can also be caused by homocystinuria - a genetic disorder.
Regardless of the cause, researchers have correlated the amount of this amino acid in the body with the narrowing of blood vessels and arteries. Additionally, the level of homocysteine in your blood stream can be measured by a simple test that your doctor can prescribe for you. In fact, some doctors will include it as part of your normal annual checkup.
It's actually best to have two tests done over a couple of months to rule out false readings. If, however, it turns out that the amount of homocysteine in your bloodstream is at an elevated level, look upon it as a sign that you should make changes to your dietary lifestyle. This will usually involve changing your diet to eating less meats and other high cholesterol foods.
When it comes to strokes, certain behavioral changes can be predictive of strokes. Silent strokes have been linked to depression. Many times, depression in an older person will presumed to be caused by physical illnesses such as a disability or the loss of a friend. However, because of research studies highlighting the link between mini strokes and depression, any senior who suddenly undergoes a personality shift to being depressed, should be tested for a silent stroke.
Depression could also be a leading indicator of problems in the blood vessels of the brain such as a blockage or clot. Of course, the reverse can be true as well. A mini stroke can easily damage part of the brain, specifically the basal ganglia, and trigger depressive symptoms in a person.
A stroke, whether silent (i.e. mini) or massive is basically a disruption of one or more blood vessels in the brain. The disruptions could be caused by either a blocked blood vessel or bleeding. In the case of a silent stroke, the problem will typically lie in the smaller brain blood vessels.
A silent stroke or mini stroke is often missed because the signs can be so subtle. Typically, the symptoms will last for only a few minutes. In many cases, a patient will not even be aware of having had a min stroke until he receives the result of a brain MRI which highlights damage to the brain. In all cases, however, it is a sign of something being not quite right with the cardiovascular system.
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