A stroke, caused by the blockage of blood, oxygen and nutrients being delivered to the brain, can lead to a wide range of neurological issues. From
A stroke, caused by the blockage of blood, oxygen and nutrients being delivered to the brain, can lead to a wide range of neurological issues. From concentration, memory or communication issues to praxis – the ability to get dressed or make a cup of tea – a stroke can lead to disability, the NHS certified. Presented at the European Stroke Organisation Conference (ESOC 2022), researchers told of the association between faecal matter and stroke recovery.
Dr Miquel Lledós, the lead author of the paper, explained the method and findings.
“In this study we took faecal samples – the first samples taken after the event – from 89 humans who had suffered an ischaemic stroke.
“Comparing with a control group, we were able to identify multiple groups of bacteria that were associated with a higher risk of ischaemic stroke.”
An ischaemic stroke is the most common type of stroke, the NHS pointed out, which occurs when a blood clot blocks the flow of oxygen and blood to the brain.
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Blood clots typically form in areas where the arteries have been narrowed or blocked over time by fatty deposits known as plaques.
While arteries naturally narrow with age, there are factors that “dangerously speed up this process”. This includes:
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- High cholesterol levels
- Excessive alcohol intake.
Dr Lledós, from the Sant Pau Research Institute Stroke Pharmacogenomics and Genetics Laboratory in Barcelona, Spain, elaborated on his study.
“The influence of the gut microbiome (the trillions of bacteria and other microorganisms that live in the gut) is a modifiable risk factor,” he said.
The gut microbiome is “associated with the risk of stroke and with post-stroke neurological outcomes”.
Data demonstrates that Fusobacterium and Lactobacillus were associated with ischaemic stroke risk.
And Negativibacillus and Lentisphaeria were associated with a more severe stroke, six to 24 hours following a stroke.
Furthermore, Acidaminococcus bacteria (found in faeces) was related to poor functional outcomes at three months.
Dr Lledós added: “The discovery opens the exciting prospect that, in the future, we may be able to prevent strokes or improve neurological recovery by examining the gut microbiota.
“In other pathologies, clinical trials are being carried out where researchers replace the intestinal flora through dietary changes or faecal transplantation from healthy individuals, and this should be studied further in the stroke field.”
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) noted that there is more than 100,000 strokes in the UK each year.
Around 38,000 people each year lose their lives because of a stroke.
How to prevent a stroke
The best way to prevent a stroke is to eat a healthy diet, full of fruit and vegetables, and to exercise regularly.
Aim to get your body moving for at least 150 minutes each week and try to eat a low-fat, high-fibre diet.
These lifestyle changes – in addition to being a non-smoker and not drinking too much alcohol – can help reduce the risk of blocked arteries, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
“If you have already had a stroke, making these changes can help reduce your risk of having another stroke in the future,” the NHS added.