Each year, more than 795,000 Americans suffer from stroke, the leading cause of long-term disability in the United States. Research shows many older adults who have had a stroke also have anemia, a condition characterized by low red blood cell levels or hemoglobin.
These low hemoglobin levels can result in a reduced amount of oxygen being carried to the body’s organs and tissues, leading to headache, fatigue, dizziness, pale skin and other concerns. New research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association has found that adults who have had a stroke have a higher risk of death if they also have anemia.
Researchers from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland analyzed data from more than 8,000 adults with an average age of 77 who had had a stroke. The team looked at the participants’ levels of hemoglobin to determine whether they were anemic.
Those who had ischemic stroke, caused by a blocked artery that supplies oxygen-rich blood to the brain, were twice as likely to die if they were anemic. Similarly, among patients who had hemorrhagic stroke, which results from a leaking or ruptured artery in the brain, the death risk was nearly two times greater for those with anemia.
Higher levels of hemoglobin also were associated with an increased risk of death, suggesting that both low and high hemoglobin levels may raise the death risk in stroke patients.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says foods high in iron such as cereal, beans, lentils, greens and fish can help prevent anemia. Eating a more balanced diet not only can help with weight control, it can also help keep your blood healthy.