Step forward for stroke protection

Monash scientists have made a breakthrough that may reduce or even stop the effects of stroke.

Scientists have long known that gender plays some role in stroke – but what role exactly, and how to use that knowledge to apply treatment, has largely been a mystery. Stroke is Australia’s second biggest cause of death and a leading cause of disability, affecting around 50,000 each year. The incidence of stroke is higher in men up to the age of 75, similar for men and women in the 75-84 age group, and higher in women in the age group greater than 85.

Researchers at the Monash School of Biomedical Sciences have found that a recently discovered oestrogen receptor that occurs in both men and women plays a role in the severity of a stroke – which means that males and females would require different drug treatments.

By blocking the receptor GPER in males, the symptoms of stroke may be alleviated, while triggering the receptor in females may protect them from the condition. The discovery was made using a drug on mice, which have similar oestrogen receptors to humans, and it is the first time that a drug with the potential to reduce and even stop the effect of a stroke in a sex-specific manner has been found.

“We don’t really understand the mechanisms yet but it’s a very profound sex difference, so it could mean that when a male comes into emergency with a stroke, he could be given the receptor blocker and when a woman comes in, she could be given an activator of the receptor,” lead researcher Associate Professor Chris Sobey said. ”Based on our experiments, we predict both will be beneficial.”

Associate Professor Sobey said the findings may help explain why strokes were more common in men up until the age of 75, as women have naturally higher levels of oestrogen until menopause.

The study was published in the journal Stroke and further research is expected to expand on these findings.

How to recognise a stroke

What exactly does a stroke look like? Stroke occurs when the supply of blood to the brain is suddenly interrupted. Emergency medical treatment soon after symptoms begin improves the chance of successful recovery and rehabilitation.

The easiest way to remember the symptoms is the FAST test, which asks three simple questions:

  • Face – Has their mouth dropped?
  • Arm – Can they lift both arms?
  • Speech – Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
  • Time – Time is critical. A stroke is always a medical emergency. If you see any of these signs, call 000 immediately.

For more information visit strokefoundation.com.au

Recommended reading - Issue Eleven Autumn 2015

Community

Mr Wilkinson’s autumn salads

Matt Wilkinson of Pope Joan chats about autumn ingredients, balcony gardens, and his new cookbook

Read more
Community

Il Fornaio: The fresh touch

How does a local eatery keep things fresh? We take a moment with Il Fornaio head chef Simon Turner

Read more
Experts

Hunger, appetite and cravings – what’s the difference?

Our needs, desires and cravings can easily get tangled together. Here's how to take back control

Read more
Experts

Gut feelings

Consumed by food cravings? It might be your gut bacteria talking

Read more
Lifestyle

The art of the perfect dinner party

Natalie Hayllar of Eat, Read, Love shares her secrets for social dining with a special something.

Read more
Experts

Tree of life

Just as trees need nourishment, our bodies need consistent, loving care to grow a healthy future.

Read more
Recipes

Carrot and miso dressing recipe

A delightful salad dressing from Il Fornaio, blending the flavours of miso and orange blossom

Read more
Community

The wholefoods way

Kate Bradley from Kenko Kitchen takes a moment to share some of her healthy secrets

Read more
Recipes

Chestnut and hazelnut cake recipe

The crumbly qualities of chestnuts lend themselves to much more than simply being roasted

Read more
Community

The traveller’s life

Portuguese blogger Sofia Machado lives life on the road, fuelled by the pure human desire of travel.

Read more
Lifestyle

A healthy getaway

Feeling lacklustre? A retreat focusing on nutrition and wellbeing could be what your body needs.

Read more
Community

The art of resilience

Matthew Johnstone tackles life’s tough questions with his endearing warmth and wit.

Read more

For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are instructions on how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.