A new study claims following a plant-based or vegetarian diet could increase the risk of stroke. For almost 18 years a group of meat eaters, fish eaters, and vegetarians were monitored by researchers for their investigation.
“Vegetarian and vegan diets have become increasingly popular in recent years, partly due to the perceived health benefits, but also concerns about the environment and animal welfare,” study author Tammy Tong told a news portal.
The findings showed the risk of heart disease is low for vegetarians and fish eaters.However, vegetarians had a 20 per cent chance of experiencing a stroke compared to meat eaters. Researches say they were especially at risk of hemorrhagic stroke. Experts say these kinds of strokes are deadly and cause more damage.
“Hemorrhagic stroke is a type of stroke caused because of a rupture of a weakened blood vessel causing spillage of blood into the brain. Most common causes include uncontrolled high blood pressure, rupture of a brain aneurysm, or rupture of an abnormal blood vessel in the brain,” Dr Ishwara Sankara, a neurointensivist and Texas Health Fort Worth medical staff with Neurocritical Care Associates of Fort Worth, told a news portal.
As a growing number of people are looking to adopt a healthy lifestyle, many opt to follow plant-based diets to achieve their health goals. However, the potential risks have yet to be investigated. “However, the full extent of the potential health benefits and hazards of these diets is not well understood,” Tong told a news portal. Adding, “Some recent evidence has suggested that very low cholesterol levels might be linked to a higher risk of hemorrhagic stroke, although low cholesterol level is protective against heart disease.”
Tong further explained: “But, in absolute numbers, the lower risk of coronary heart disease does exceed the higher risk of stroke in the vegetarians." Adding, “The findings are also currently based on a single study, so more research is needed to examine whether the findings are generalizable to other populations.”
One reason why vegetarian diets may increase the risk of stroke is that it might be an indication that individuals might be lacking vital nutrients. “The higher rate of hemorrhagic and total stroke in the vegetarian/vegan group seems surprising. However, as the authors point out, these findings are not dissimilar to other research from Japan and China linking vegetarian diets with higher rates of stroke. They attribute this to a possible protective effect of some meat products,” Dr Jennifer H Haythe, a cardiologist at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, told a news portal.
More research is needed to fully understand the link between the two. The study's findings were originally published in the BMJ.
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