Health & Fitness

An Orange a day may keep stroke away


Nov-Dec 2010

Medgate today Magazine

Nutrition may have a role to play in the pathogenesis of stroke, according to neurologists from the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney.

The doctors reported a case of ischaemic stroke in a 34- year old man with severe vitamin C deficiency caused by poor nutrition. The patient, who had recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, had no history of hypertension or hypercholesterolaemia and no family history of stroke. Coagulation and lipid profiles were normal and the patient tested negative for underlying thrombophilia, vasculitides and Fabry disease. Tests showed the patient had normal carotid and vertebral arteries and a structurally normal heart without a source of embolus.
However the patient had poor dentition, with calculus deposition, scorbutic gums and gingival inflammation, and reported easy bruising in recent months. Suspecting a diagnosis of scurvy, the doctors discovered that his diet consisted mainly of fast food, with negligible vegetable and fruit intake. Laboratory testing confirmed the presence of severe vitamin C deficiency (< 5 μmol/L; reference range, 40–100 μmol/L). “We hypothesise that an unhealthy diet resulted in deficiencies in antioxidants and this contributed to stroke pathogenesis, the authors wrote in a letter to the MJA.
The marked prematurity of disease onset may have resulted from effect modification of antioxidant deficiency on conventional atherosclerotic risk factors such as diabetes, they added. It is unlikely that a direct causal link will ever be established but since malnutrition and unhealthy eating practices continue to be a serious public health problem, the doctors suggest attention to nutritional status should be incorporated into the new standard of stroke care.