Originally published March 2 2014
Low iron in your blood may increase stroke risk
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) New research by scientists in the United Kingdom has found that iron deficiency increases your chance of suffering a stroke by making the blood stickier.
In a study published in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers from the Imperial College London acknowledged previous research which indicated that iron deficiency can be a risk factor for ischemic stroke -- which occurs when small blood clots interrupt blood flow to the brain -- in both adults and children. To find out why, the team analyzed iron levels of 497 patients with hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT) -- a rare disease that can lead to enlarged blood vessels in the lungs, Medical News Today reported.
In their study, the team explained that healthy blood vessels usually are able to filter out small clots before they travel to arteries. But in HHT, the blood vessels sometimes allow small clots to remain in arteries; some of those clots can eventually travel to the brain.
Millions die from stroke every year
The team found that patients who had moderately low levels of iron had double the risk of stroke, when compared to patients with iron levels determined to be in the middle of what is considered normal range (7-27 micromoles per liter).
Upon further examination, the team found that iron deficiency can increase the stickiness of platelets, or small blood cell fragments that aid in clotting. This phenomenon causes the platelets to stick together, which can lead to the formation of blood clots.
Each year, more than 15 million people around the world suffer a stroke, and 6 million of them die, according to published figures.
"Since platelets in the blood stick together more if you are short of iron, we think this may explain why being short of iron can lead to strokes, though much more research will be needed to prove this link," said Dr. Claire Shovlin, of the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London, who was part of the research team.
She went on to say that her research team will further investigate whether treating iron deficiency in patients at higher risk of stroke will reduce the occurrence of stroke and, specifically, whether treating the deficiency would help prevent the formation of blood clots.
"There are many additional steps from a clot blocking a blood vessel to the final stroke developing, so it is still unclear just how important sticky platelets are to the overall process," Shovlin said, adding that the team is hopeful that additional research will examine the relationship between low iron levels and sticky platelets.
The World Health Organization says that 30 percent of the world's population suffers from anemia, and that is primarily as a result of iron deficiency.
Meats and veggies contain the iron you need
As noted by Medical News Today:
Lack of iron in the blood can be caused by blood loss, poor diet, or the inability to absorb a sufficient amount of iron from food - a common occurrence in people who suffer from Crohn's disease or celiac disease.
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute in Washington, D.C. -- a division of the National Institutes of Health, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services -- the best sources of iron are from meats, poultry and fish, as well as foods that are iron-fortified.
A diet rich in iron is one of the best ways to retain a sufficient blood iron level, and thus reduce your risk of suffering a stroke, researchers have noted. Iron supplements, meanwhile, are not as effective as deriving iron from your foods, researchers say.
Obviously, not all Americans are meat eaters, but not to worry; if you're vegan, you can still get plenty of iron in your diet. Just click here to find out how: NaturalNews.com.
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