Doctors at Brigham and Women’s Hospital say you may want to limit your stroke medication, but there are no definitive guidelines on how to do so.
In a paper published in the journal Stroke and Neurology, researchers from the hospital say that they were surprised to find that most stroke patients have a blood pressure level below 140/90mmHg.
The researchers say they don’t know what factors are associated with this level, but their findings may provide some guidance.
“I think the most important thing to remember is that your blood pressure needs to be below 140 to avoid any adverse effects,” said Dr. William R. Schulz, a neurologist at Brigham who led the study.
A blood pressure of 140/70mmHag is considered “normal,” and is often seen as a normal range of blood pressure.
But blood pressure can fluctuate over time, and can be higher or lower than normal.
It’s important to have a normal blood pressure for a long period of time, so it’s best to stay below 140 for the long term.
The researchers looked at more than 300 stroke patients who were undergoing a total stroke and stroke rehabilitation in the Brigham and Womens Hospital.
The stroke patients were also followed for at least four years to see how they responded to their medication.
They used two imaging technologies, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and a digital computed tomography (CT).
The MRI shows changes in blood flow in different parts of the brain, including the brain stem and thalamus.
One imaging study also used functional magnetic resonance spectroscopy (fMRI), which shows changes of the shape of the blood vessels.
This is useful in monitoring how a person’s blood pressure changes with age, and it can be used to track changes in brain function over time.
For the study, the researchers used fMRI to measure changes in gray matter volume in the thalamic region.
This volume is the region of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for processing information about the brain.
They found that stroke patients had decreased gray matter in the brainstem.
To measure changes of brain function in the stroke patients, the team used magnetic resonance images of the brains of patients who underwent total stroke rehabilitation.
The scan images showed that stroke victims had smaller thalamo-cortical gray matter (GMG) volumes compared to controls, and decreased GMG volume in areas of the thalamocortical system (TCS) and the thoracic area (TA).
“We were able to see that the thymus is not producing enough GABA,” said Schulz.
“We were also able to find a decline in thalamocytic GABA release in stroke patients.”
“The results suggest that a decrease in GABA levels may contribute to the decline in the volume of thalaminar neurons in the cortex of stroke patients,” Schulz said.
Another imaging study using functional magnetic imaging (fMNI) showed that strokes patients had reduced GMG in the hippocampus, a brain region involved in learning and memory.
This decrease in GMG could also contribute to an inability to learn new information.
“The hippocampus is a crucial part of learning and the consolidation of memory,” said lead author Dr. Michael M. Maffei, a research fellow at the Department of Neurosurgery at Brigham.
“In stroke patients we saw a decrease of GMG, and the hippocampus is thought to be more sensitive to changes in stroke risk factors.”
Another study, this one led by Dr. David L. Fink, a professor of neurology at Brigham, used functional MRI to measure differences in brain activation in stroke and control subjects.
The MRI scans showed that patients had less activity in regions involved in memory and executive function, which includes thinking, problem solving, and reasoning.
Dr. Mink said he hopes this study will help other stroke patients to take their medications more slowly, or to reduce their medication dose by as much as 30%.
The findings may help stroke patients determine which medications they can choose to take to help with their stroke risk.
“I hope this research will lead stroke patients and stroke survivors to be aware of the possible adverse effects associated with their medications,” said Maffi.
Follow me on Twitter for the latest news and updates on stroke and related medical topics.