Inflammation and Stroke: What’s the Link?

Inflammation and Stroke: What’s the Link?

Inflammation and stroke are related in two ways.

First, when a stroke occurs, your brain becomes inflamed as your body tries to heal itself. Secondly, preexisting inflammation in the body can contribute to the onset of a stroke.

Let’s examine these two links.

Brain Inflammation and Stroke

the brain becomes inflamed after stroke

When a stroke occurs, your immune system sends agents to repair the damage and deal with the ‘aggressor.’ This response is a type of inflammatory response, and it’s your body’s way of healing itself.

However, according to biological scientist Neil Wagner, “what started as the death of a small amount of brain tissue becomes much larger due to a molecular cascade.” The brain inflammation becomes too much of a good thing and ends up causing more harm than good.

To combat this problem, researchers have identified a protein called alpha-B-crystallin that may help minimize the negative effects of this prolonged inflammation. It has yet to be tested in humans, though.

The inflammation that develops in your brain after stroke is very different from the inflammation in your body before your stroke. Let’s look into how that could play a role in the onset of a stroke.

Bodily Inflammation and Stroke

high cholesterol may lead to inflammation and stroke

Inflammation in the body is a defense mechanism against infection and injury. For example, if you scrape your knee, that area will become inflamed as your body attempts to heal the area.

Unfortunately, a poor lifestyle and bad eating habits could foster long-term bodily inflammation – specifically inflammation in the arteries that can eventually lead to stroke.

For example, high cholesterol is one of the leading causes of stroke. When there’s too much LDL cholesterol (the ‘”bad” cholesterol) in the bloodstream, the body produces an inflammation response in attempt to get rid of the invading cholesterol.

When the body stays in this state of inflammation long-term, it leads to chronic inflammation, which can damage arteries and eventually lead to heart attack or stroke.

So, what can you do to reduce your risk of stroke from long-term inflammation?

How to Reduce Inflammation and Risk of Stroke

To reduce inflammation in the body and, as a result, also reduce your risk of stroke, follow these healthy steps:

1. Reduce Stress-Induced Inflammation

relaxation techniques help reduce inflammation and stroke

Chronic stress can increase inflammation in the body and aggravate many conditions that are precursors to stroke. This is one reason why stress and stroke are linked.

Reducing chronic stress helps reduce the extra unhealthy inflammation in your body. Some best practices to reduce stress include starting a meditation practice and psychotherapy.

If you need more help, then talk to your doctor. (S)he may be able to prescribe medication that can help.

2. Manage Dietary LDL Cholesterol

fight inflammation and stroke with fiber

High cholesterol is one of the leading causes of stroke.

While we need some cholesterol in order to be healthy, too much LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) can cause inflammation in the arteries.

Get your cholesterol levels checked, and if your LDL cholesterol levels are high, take action to reduce it by reducing the amount of saturated fat in your diet. This means less butter, red meat, and palm oil.

You can also improve cholesterol by exercising regularly and getting adequate fiber in your diet. And if all else fails, talk to your doctor about statins, a cholesterol-lowering medication.

3. Eat Foods That Fight Inflammation

healthy foods that fight inflammation after stroke

Reducing inflammation in the body doesn’t just require removing things from your diet. You can also add these foods that fight inflammation to your menu too:

  • tomatoes and olive oil
  • green leafy vegetables
  • nuts like almonds and walnuts
  • fatty fish like salmon
  • fruits like strawberries, blueberries, and oranges

This list is similar to our list of the best foods that prevent stroke — and it’s no coincidence.

4. Get Enough Sleep

woman getting up from a good night of sleep to reduce bodily inflammation

Finally, our last tip to help reduce inflammation and risk of stroke is simple:

Get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Too little and too much sleep promotes inflammation in the body. Research shows that 7-9 hours is the sweet spot for optimal health.

If you are a stroke survivor, you should also be focusing on rest because getting enough sleep after stroke is critical for recovery.

If you follow these steps, you can help reduce long-term inflammation in the body and hopefully prevent chronic diseases like stroke.

Eat well, sleep well, and be well!