Stroke - Reversing the Risk of Having Another

Stroke is a leading cause of disability. One quarter of patients who have a first stroke have another within 5 years; this increased risk is driven by the worsening risk profile for cardiovascular disease that follows stroke. Importantly, it is the changes on the paretic (weak or paralyzed) side musculature and fat that promotes diabetes and increases inflammation, both factors being powerful risk factors for vascular disease. How do we reduce this risk of having another stroke? Exercise. Exercise that increases cardiorespiratory fitness, increases the size of the muscles wasted after stroke, and reverses the flow of inflammatory factors that come from inflamed fat on the side of the stroke. We at UWI SODECO along with our collaborators at the University of Maryland School of Medicine are conducting an NIH funded study that asks two main questions. First, as all the data up until now have come from patients who have had a stroke a year of more prior to exercise therapy, will starting such therapy soon after stroke prevent these pathological changes? Second, what are the underlying mechanisms that cause the wasting of muscles after stroke, and how does exercise reverse the wasting? These questions are structured in a bid to discover new methods of treatment. This study, “Effects of Early Exercise on Muscle and Cardiovascular Health after Stroke”, was completed in January 2017. The data is currently being analysed.