stroke

  1. NSAIDs side effects increase stroke risk 28 to 86 percent

    You may recall I touched on dangerous  NSAIDs, side effects, like ibuprofen, a few weeks ago. But a recent study makes stomach-bleeding look like a walk in the park. In fact, researchers found that healthy men and women who take an NSAID -- even just for two weeks -- significantly increase their stroke risk.

    For the study, Danish and U.S. researchers looked at medical records for the entire population of Denmark. They excluded anyone admitted to the hospital within the past five years. They also excluded anyone who had taken prescription medicine for more than two years.

    This left the researchers with a pool of about 500,000 healthy men and women. Next, the team followed these folks between the years 1997 and 2005. During those eight years, researchers found that about 45 percent of these healthy folks took an NSAID or other prescription med. Then, the team cross-referenced this list against the names of people who either died or entered the hospital due to a stroke.

    They found a disturbing amount of crossover. Men and women who took  NSAIDs raised their stroke risk anywhere from 28 to 86 percent. Here‘s the breakdown by drug:

    NSAID Increase in stroke risk
    Ibuprofen 28 percent
    Naproxen 35 percent
    Celecoxib 69 percent
    Diclofenac 86 percent

    First off, I hope you noticed that NSAIDs side effects from even over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen increased stroke risk by about a third. That‘s nothing to sneeze at, especially when you consider that most men and women who died of stroke had only been taking an NSAID for two weeks or less. Plus, research showed that risk skyrocketed to 90 percent if a person took more than 200 mg of ibuprofen.

    Yet look at the stats for celecoxib (marketed as Celebrex). Celecoxib is also an NSAID yet it works by blocking cyclooxygenase-2 (or COX-2), an enzyme that sends pain messages. (NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen, on the other hand, block COX-2 and COX-1 enzymes).

    Researchers found that men and women who took celecoxib raised their stroke risk by a staggering 69 percent. That‘s very bad news indeed when you consider Celebrex is one of the best-selling drugs in America!

    The worst of the bunch by far -- diclofenac -- increased stroke risk by 86 percent. Plus, if a person took more than 100 mg of diclofenac, a commonly prescribed dosage, their stroke risk soared to 100 percent.

    Diclofenac is another type of NSAID commonly prescribed to treat pain. But, it‘s even given "off label" to cancer patients to help relieve general malaise. Just think of how many men and women out there may beat cancer but wind up dying of a stroke because they took diclofenac for a month during chemo.

    Plus, let‘s not forget--researchers came up with these grim results using healthy individuals. What happens when someone with a serious illness takes diclofenac or ibuprofen?

    Lead researcher: "It is an enormous effect."

    Lead researcher Dr. Gunnar Gislason didn‘t mince words when he talked about the study. He said, "If half the population takes these drugs, even on an occasional basis, then the NSAIDs side effects could be responsible for a 50% to 100% increase in stroke risk. It is an enormous effect."

    Plus, he went on to warn, "First we found an increased risk of MI [heart attack] from NSAIDs side effects. Now we are finding the same thing for stroke. This is very serious, as these drugs are very widely used, with many available over the counter. We need to get the message out to healthcare authorities that these drugs need to be regulated more carefully."

    Well, don‘t count on that to happen anytime soon, Dr. Gislason. I have very little faith the FDA will do the right thing.

    So you‘ll have to go it alone, folks. Beware of the NSAID side effects from taking NSAIDs for any length of time. And if you must take one, take the smallest dose possible and get off of it quickly.

    On the other hand, if your pain is localized in one area, I would suggest trying a topical agent like NorthStar Nutritionals' Soothanol X2. It contains a natural substance called DMSO that rubs out the pain on contact. A friend of mine recently used Soothanol on her torn rotator cuff and it worked wonders . Plus, she didn‘t have to worry about the dangers of taking NSAIDs every day for six months while her shoulder healed.

  2. Manage your blood sugar safely, without Avandia side effects

    Last month, the FDA restricted sales of the diabetes drug Avandia because of Avandia side effects. From now on, you can only get it if you‘ve tried every other drug on the market without success. Or, if you‘re already taking Avandia, you‘ll be allowed to continue to take it as well. (Hopefully, this one doesn‘t apply to you.) But you‘ll have to attest that you understand the serious risks involved...namely that taking Avandia side effects may include increase risk of  having a heart attack and stroke.

    And that risk is nothing to sneeze at. According to a recent New York Times article, "One study estimated that from 1999 to 2009, more than 47,000 people taking Avandia needlessly suffered a heart attack, stroke or heart failure, or died."

    Sensibly, the European Union banned Avandia all together.

    The good news is, in many cases, natural methods can help control your blood sugar. Visit and  search the NorthStar Nutritionals blog and search on blood sugar support and diabetes. You‘ll find numerous articles about how to naturally lower your blood sugar.

    One recent article tells you how men and women with diabetes lowered their fasting blood sugar levels by up to 29 percent in just 40 days without drugs or major changes in their diet. How‘d they do it? Just click here to find out.

  3. Can calcium supplements really give you a heart attack?

    A major new study announced that taking a calcium supplement may raise your heart attack or stroke risk by as much at 30 percent. I know what you're thinking: "Is this really true? Could the pill I take for my bones really be that bad for me?" And the answer is: Yes, calcium can cause serious health problems when taken alone. But I could also argue that shaving your beard is bad for you health because you could cut the carotid artery in your neck. Or walking the dog is bad for your health because you could get hit by a car. Basically, you do anything the wrong way and you can get hurt. So go ahead and shave your beard, walk the dog, and take calcium. Just do it the RIGHT way. Study misses one major fact... Professor Ian Reid and his team from the University of Auckland analyzed data from 15 different randomized trials conducted over the last 20 years. They found that men and women who took calcium supplements did increase their risk of heart attack or stroke by about 30 percent. But to tell you the truth, that stat didn't surprise me. And neither did his other big "discovery": Men and women with high dietary intakes of calcium did not see the same increased risk. In interviews, Reid and his team seem to scratch their heads to explain this conundrum. Why does a calcium supplement appear to raise risk and not a high- calcium meal? They theorize that calcium supplements cause the mineral to collect in your blood...and high-calcium meals do not. And, again, that's true. Taking 500 mg of calcium alone isn't a good thing. Your body can't handle it. In fact, in addition to cardiovascular problems, it can cause problems with your kidneys, GI tract, nervous system, and even your brain! But there's one sure-fire way to solve the calcium problem: Take magnesium with it. And that's the one huge, gigantic, obvious missing piece from Reid's analysis. You see, calcium cannot work in the body without magnesium. Crack the calcium puzzle You body can NOT handle high amounts of calcium on its own. It gets stuck in your blood, soft tissues, and in your kidneys. It also causes hardening of the arterial walls...and eventually cardiovascular events as Reid's meta-analysis showed. That's why I've always recommended taking one part magnesium for every two parts calcium. Magnesium helps your body absorb the calcium so it doesn't collect in your kidneys and soft tissues. By the way, this is taught in every Nutrition 101 course, in nearly every community college across the country. (Clearly, Professor Reid slept through that course.) And truthfully, I'm not sure why manufacturers even sell supplements that only contain calcium. If you've got a bottle, throw it out. Calcium and magnesium naturally work together So...now can you figure out why people from Reid's meta-analysis with a high- calcium diet didn't increase their cardiovascular events risk? You got it: They were also eating a high-magnesium diet. In natural foods, calcium is always paired with magnesium. It's just nature's way of providing us with exactly what we need to stay healthy. Just look up high-calcium foods like broccoli or kale. These foods also contain magnesium. In fact, nature doesn't make a calcium-rich food that doesn't contain magnesium. That is unless it's "fortified with calcium" like homogenized milk and most dairy products on the shelves. So don't get fooled into thinking these products are natural! Professor Reid goes down swinging In interviews, Professor Reid isn't content just bashing calcium. He goes after all supplements: "We have tended to focus on just the benefits of supplements without really looking at their safety. In the future I think we need to look at both the efficacy and the safety of supplements." Well, truthfully, I have to agree with that last thought...but for a different reason. Just because something is natural doesn't mean that it can't also do harm. Supplements are powerful tools and you must learn to use them the right way...in the right amount and combination. That's why it's important to work with a qualified naturopath and keep reading my Guide to Good Health. I'll make sure to point out the landmines and steer you clear of Professor Reids of the world.
  4. Staging a comeback?

    Poor old ginkgo biloba. It’s one of those herbs that skyrocketed into popularity in the 1980s and 90s. Then -- bam -- a few negative studies showing negligible results in treating dementia and ginkgo biloba’s stuck at home on date night eating ice cream with mom, dad, and the cats. Well, I digress. Truth is, ginkgo biloba’s got a lot more going for it than almost anyone in the medical world is willing to admit these days. Anyone except the scientists at Johns Hopkins Institutions, that is. A recent study by Hopkins researchers has shown that supplementing with ginkgo biloba may reduce brain damage and neurobehavioral dysfunction from a stroke by a whopping 50 percent. Of course, their testing was on mice. So they’ve got a ways to go to prove this will work for humans. But the researchers are optimistic. According to researcher Sylvain Dore, “If further work confirms what we‘ve seen, we could theoretically recommend a daily regimen of ginkgo to people at high risk of stroke as a preventive measure against brain damage." How about that for staging a comeback!

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