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Vitamin E may reduce risk of stroke


TORONTO (CNN) -- There's evidence that taking vitamin E supplements each day could help reduce the risk of stroke, according to a study released Tuesday at the American Academy of Neurology's 51st annual meeting in Toronto.

Researchers from Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center (CPMC) of New York Presbyterian Hospital found a person's risk of stroke is reduced by 53 percent if he or she takes a vitamin E supplement each day.

"People are reaping protective benefits from vitamin E simply by taking a multivitamin," said neurologist and study author Dr. Richard Benson of CPMC.

Stroke, the third leading cause of death in the United States, often occurs without warning.

Researchers examined 850 adults with an average age of 69, including 350 who had previously suffered a stroke. The group included Hispanics, African-Americans and Caucasians. Forty-six percent of the participants took vitamin supplements.

The amount of vitamin E consumed by stroke participants before their strokes was compared to consumption by healthy participants. Those who never had a stroke were twice as likely as the stroke victims to take vitamin supplements.

Vitamin E is found in vegetable oils and palm oils. But according to the researchers, most people they studied did not have enough of the vitamin in their diets and required supplements.

"Though vitamin E is important to health, we aren't suggesting people take more than a multivitamin," said Benson. Too much vitamin E can cause nausea, diarrhea and flatulence.

Researchers said there are other things people can do to lower their risk of stroke.

Doctors recommend stopping smoking, limiting alcohol intake, lowering cholesterol and saturated fat intake and increasing physical activity to reduce the risk of stroke.

If prevention attempts don't work, doctors say the best way to survive a stroke is to know the warning signs and seek medical attention early.

The signs of stroke may be subtle or obvious and can include:

  • Sudden weakness or numbness in the face, arm or leg on one side of the body;
  • Dimness, blurring or loss of vision, especially in one eye;
  • Loss of speech or trouble talking and understanding speech;
  • Sudden severe headache, with no apparent cause;
  • Unexplained dizziness, unsteadiness or a sudden fall.

Medical Correspondent Dr. Steve Salvatore contributed to this report.

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Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center (CPMC) of New York Presbyterian Hospital
American Academy of Neurology
The Stroke Association
Stroke Prevention Guidelines Introduction
Stroke information Center
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