As most of us are well aware there are a number of diet, lifestyle and possibly even emotional changes that need to worked towards to limit stroke risk. There are all very similar with the addition of potential medications to avoid a recurrence.
Within diet - you want to choose more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and limit sugar, alcohol and sodium. Lifestyle wise you want to quit smoking (if you smoke) and stay reasonably active. The activity does not have to be intense, just incorporate walking (if you are able) into your life and make it a habit. As the study I discussed last week, "Acupuncture... For Post-Stroke Depression", working with any underlying psychological issues is important as well. And, of course, following your doctors advice and medications where appropriate.
While these changes can be done and are proven beneficial, stroke rates are still high and recurrence rates have been shown by research to be up to 15 times higher than stroke rates in the general public. Another helpful addition to post-stroke care may be acupuncture.
While acupuncture is heavily used for stroke rehabilitation much like the last study I wrote about (linked to above), the benefits of acupuncture are often quite broad. This broadness means that other issues can be dealt with at the same time as rehab (psychological issues, causal factors, etc.). From a Chinese Medicine perspective certain diagnostic patterns are often involved with stroke and by default of treating them (even pre-stroke for other issues) you are limiting that pattern from manifesting (i.e. having a stroke, having an additional stroke, etc.).
In the study I'm discussing today researchers reviewed over 30,000 patient files from the early 2000's through a 10 year span. They looked at recurrence rates of stroke for previous stroke sufferers. They found that those who had acupuncture had a statistically lower rate of recurrence than those who had not. They recommended that further long-term studies should be done to further explain this effect. Does acupuncture simply around the time of stroke limit further recurrences? - does acupuncture weekly for 1-2 years following stroke limit recurrences more than at the time?, less? These questions would all need further study.
All those future research questions aside, the researchers concluded that "acupuncture might be effective in lowering stroke recurrence rate even in those on medications for stroke prevention. Results suggest the need of prospective sham-controlled and randomized trials to establish the efficacy of acupuncture in preventing stroke."
Certainly from a theoretical perspective in Chinese Medicine there is always a benefit of treating patterns before they become individualized manifested symptoms. Many patients ask if you can do acupuncture for general wellness - and the answer is yes? But really, you are always treating something with Chinese Medicine due to the focus on the underlying patterns. So while people want wellness - they are possibly getting that and prevention of things they hopefully never have to experience.
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