Cup of Joe for the Heart

Coffee may reduce risk of stroke in women

(RxWiki News) We've been told that coffee can be bad for our heart health, but a new study shows that drinking some coffee can actually promote the health of women.

Women who drink at least one cup of coffee every day have a reduced risk of stroke, according to findings by Swedish researchers. On the inverse, women who drink less coffee have a higher chance of suffering a stroke.

dailyRx Insight: Drinking a cup of coffee each day may help prevent strokes in women.

In order to study the relationship between drinking coffee and risk of stroke, Dr. Susanna Larsson, from the Division of Nutritional Epidemiology at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, and colleagues gave women a questionnaire measuring coffee drinking habits. The researchers then tracked the rate of strokes among the 34,670 women.

They found that women who drank at least one cup of coffee per day reduced their risk of stroke by 22 to 25 percent, compared to women who drank less or no coffee.

While the relationship found in this study may not be enough evidence for women to start drinking large quantities of coffee every day, it does show that concerns about coffee consumption leading to stroke could be overblown.

Stroke affects almost 6 million Americans every year, and it is the second leading cause of death behind Coronary artery disease and ahead of cancer. A stroke happens when blood flow to the brain is interrupted, either by a blood clot in the brain or from another part of the body (ischemic stroke), or by a blood vessel in the brain breaking open from high blood pressure (hemorrhagic stroke). Symptoms vary depending on which part of the brain is being affected, but commonly referenced symptoms are a sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body or face, and the inability to speak clearly or find words. Any kind of sudden change in a person's sensory or physical abilities is cause for alarm, as well as severe, splitting headache. Diagnosis and management are medical emergencies, as time from stroke onset to stroke treatment can have significant impact on recovery. Patients are usually given a host of imaging tests, such as CT scan, MRI, and angiogram (xray of the blood vessels). If the stroke is caught early and is being cause by a blood clot, there are medications that can be given to quickly dissolve the clot. Hemorrhagic strokes often need brain surgery to stop bleeding. In most cases, stroke causes significant disability and needs intense rehabilitation to regain lost function from the damaged brain. Patients can avoid stroke risk factors by managing high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, quitting smoking, and eating a healthy, low fat diet.

The study is published in Stroke, a journal of the American Heart Association.

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Review Date: 
March 11, 2011