Researchers Discover New Connections Between Melatonin and Hemorrhagic Stroke
A stroke is a serious medical condition caused by poor blood flow to the brain that often results in cell death. At least 80 percent of all cases of stroke are the ischemic type of stroke. In an ischemic stroke, an artery to the vein is blocked, preventing brain tissue from receiving oxygen and nutrients. However, approximately 13 percent of all stroke cases are a different type called a hemorrhagic stroke. In this type of stroke, a weakened blood vessel in the brain ruptures, leaking blood into the surrounding brain tissue, ultimately damaging it. The most common cause of a hemorrhagic stroke is high blood pressure. Some other causes include trauma, infection, tumors, blood vessel abnormalities and blood clotting deficiencies.
A hemorrhagic stroke often causes severe disability, if not death. Most hospital patients who have suffered a hemorrhagic stroke require mechanical ventilation. However, staying on mechanical ventilation for very long is undesirable, as it can cause side effects like lung injury, pneumonia and gastrointestinal bleeding. Fortunately, new research on melatonin and hemorrhagic stroke has discovered a natural way to improve recovery from hemorrhagic stroke and to reduce the duration of mechanical ventilation in such patients.
New Study Finds Link Between Melatonin and Hemorrhagic Stroke
Though hemorrhagic stroke is less common than ischemic stroke, it leads to death more frequently than ischemic stroke. New discoveries about how to treat the aftermath of hemorrhagic stroke and reduce mortality are invaluable. Getting proper medical care as soon as possible is important for avoiding death from stroke. In particular, experts believe that early initiation of neuroprotective treatments (i.e. medications that help keep nerve and brain cells alive and functioning) may improve the outcome of hemorrhagic stroke.
A 2017 study sheds valuable light on possibilities for hemorrhagic stroke treatment. This study was conducted by researchers from Tehran University of Medical Sciences and Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, and it was published in the scientific journal Journal of Research in Pharmacy Practice.
The study involved collecting information about 40 adults who had suffered a hemorrhagic stroke and who had been admitted to the Intensive Care Unit within 24 hours of the event. The researchers had some of the patients receive 30 milligrams of melatonin every night, while the rest of the patients did not receive any melatonin.
Upon analyzing the data, the researchers discovered that melatonin shortened both the duration of mechanical ventilation and the duration of ICU stay. Patients who received this treatment did not need mechanical ventilation for as long and got out of the Intensive Care Unit sooner. This suggests that melatonin helped them recover from the stroke. Further research may prove that melatonin deserves a place as an integral part of the stroke treatment protocol. The authors of the study also note that melatonin may be useful for any patient undergoing mechanical ventilation, regardless of whether or not that is because of a stroke. They note this chemical has sedative, pain-relieving, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This could mean melatonin has many more therapeutic properties than we currently realize.
The Benefits of Melatonin
What exactly is melatonin? Melatonin is a hormone that is secreted by the pineal gland. It is secreted in far greater quantities during the dark hours of the day. Its main function is to regulate the circadian rhythm, or the sleep-wake cycle. Though the body produces melatonin naturally, it can also be helpful for certain conditions to take melatonin by mouth. By far, the main reason to take a melatonin supplement is for a sleep disorder such as insomnia and jet lag. It may also help improve quality of sleep even in people who do not have a definable sleep disorder.
Melatonin has many other lesser-known benefits. It may be helpful for treating certain types of stomach ulcers, tinnitus and heartburn. Some research even suggests that melatonin can slightly improve memory and cognitive function. Further research into melatonin's antioxidant and neuroprotective properties could reveal many more therapeutic uses for this amazing substance.
Reducing Your Risk of Hemorrhagic Stroke
Some estimates say that an astonishing one in six people will suffer some type of stroke within their lifetime. Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to reduce your risk.
Smoking is one of the biggest risk factors for stroke, including hemorrhagic stroke. It increases the likelihood of blood clots forming, and has many other negative effects that contribute to your stroke risk. Quitting smoking, as well as avoiding exposure to second-hand smoke, will reduce your chance of suffering a stroke.
Along with tobacco, alcohol is another substance that increases your risk of hemorrhagic stroke. For optimal health, men should have no more than two drinks per day, and women should have no more than one.
Diet -- even skipping meals -- influences the risk of stroke. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, get enough potassium and limit saturated fat. Exercise is also important; meeting the official minimum recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week will help reduce your risk of stroke. A healthy diet in conjunction with regular exercise will also help you maintain a healthy weight, which is important because being overweight or obese greatly increases your risk of stroke and other cardiovascular problems.
Since the most common cause of hemorrhagic stroke is high blood pressure, it is crucial to prevent and treat this condition in order to avoid the risk of stroke. In addition to following the above suggestions, limit your sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams per day, as well as to relieve and avoid stress.
Talk to your doctor about your risk of hemorrhagic stroke. If he or she assesses you to be at a high risk of stroke, you may be prescribed a medication to help prevent blood clots from forming.