Stroke: Study of 40,000 people finds hot drink slashes risk by 30%

Dr Oz explains the health benefits of green tea

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A stroke is a serious life-threatening medical condition that happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. Having a stroke can be catastrophic – it can lead to brain injury, disability and possibly death. Fortunately, there’s a potent weapon against the complication and it comes in the form of healthy eating and drinking. In regards to the latter, one drink has been shown to dramatically reduce the risk of having a stroke: green tea.

Green tea is often touted as one of the healthiest drinks on the planet and increasing evidence suggests this is not hyperbole.

A study of 40,530 Japanese adults published in the journal JAMA found that participants who drank more than five cups of green tea a day had a 26 percent lower risk of stroke than people who drank less than one cup of green tea a day. And the benefits did not stop there.

The researchers also found green tea consumption lowered the risk of death from heart attack by 26 percent.

What’s more, the green tea enthusiasts also had a 16 percent lower risk of death from all causes than people who drank less than one cup of green tea a day.

Harvard Health also cites a meta-analysis (a study of studies) of observational studies, 13 of which were conducted in green tea drinkers and five in black tea drinkers.

Researchers in that study found that people who drank the most green tea had a 28 percent lower risk of coronary artery disease than those who drank the least green tea. Black tea had no effect on heart risk.

What’s more, a meta-analysis of 14 randomised, placebo-controlled clinical trials found that green tea significantly lowered LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, reports Harvard Health.

“Many of the studies had been conducted with capsules containing catechins, the active polyphenols in green tea, rather than with the beverage itself,” the health body notes.

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“The limited data available on green tea support a potential association between green tea and beneficial properties in relationship to risk factors for cardiovascular disease,” said Kathy McManus, director of the department of nutrition at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Although no serious side effects were reported in the above studies, catechins have been reported to raise liver enzymes in animals.

Green tea contains a number of nutrients and plant compounds, including antioxidants called catechins.

Green tea is also a major source of oxalate, which can cause kidney stones. This suggests that drinking more than five cups of green tea a day (or taking the equivalent in catechin capsules) might have more risks than benefits.

When consumed wisely, though, green tea may improve your cardiovascular health.

“The bottom line is that no serious red flags were seen in the amount of tea they were testing. It appears that a few cups a day may be beneficial,” said Ms McManus to Harvard Health.

General tips to lower your risk of having a stroke

According to the NHS, it’s possible to significantly reduce your risk of having a stroke by making lifestyle changes to avoid problems such as atherosclerosis and high blood pressure.

Things that increase the risk of high blood pressure include:

  • Being overweight
  • Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol
  • Smoking
  • A lack of exercise
  • Stress.

It’s not possible to completely prevent strokes because some things that increase your risk of the condition cannot be changed, such as getting older.

Stroke – main symptoms to spot

The signs and symptoms of a stroke vary from person to person, but usually begin suddenly.

As different parts of your brain control different parts of your body, your symptoms will depend on the part of your brain affected and the extent of the damage.

The main stroke symptoms can be remembered with the word FAST:

  • Face – the face may have dropped on one side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have drooped
  • Arms – the person may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of weakness or numbness in one arm
  • Speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake; they may also have problems understanding what you’re saying to them
  • Time – it’s time to dial 999 immediately if you notice any of these signs or symptoms.

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