Results just obtained from a small, unreleased study suggest a link between low levels of vitamin C and a higher risk of the most common type of hemorrhagic stroke. (Vitamin C is found in fruits and vegetables such as oranges, papaya, peppers, broccoli, and strawberries. Vitamin C deficiency has been linked to heart disease.
Hemorrhagic stroke is less common than ischemic stroke, making up only about 15% of all strokes. However, this bleeding type of stroke is more often deadly. The type of hemorrhagic stroke studied here is a type known as intracerebral, in which a blood vessel ruptures inside the brain. This research does not prove cause-and-effect, because low vitamin C may simply indicate an overall unhealthy lifestyle, which itself increases stroke risk. The researchers will recommend a diet high in fruits and vegetables but do not recommend vitamin C supplements unless there is a shown and clear deficiency.)
The study involved 65 people who had experienced an intracerebral hemorrhagic stroke. They were compared to 65 healthy people. All participants were tested for vitamin C levels in their blood. Overall, 41% of participants had normal levels of vitamin C, 45% showed depleted levels, and 14% were considered deficient. People who had had a stroke showed depleted levels of vitamin C, while those who had not had a stroke had normal levels of the vitamin. This link could relate to roles played by the vitamin in lowering blood pressure and maintaining blood vessels. However, low vitamin C did not increase risk of death among those who suffered stroke relative to those who suffered stroke with high vitamin C levels. Other risk factors for spontaneous brain hemorrhages noted in the study were high blood pressure, drinking alcohol, and being overweight.
This study is planned for presentation in Philadelphia sometime between April 26 and May 3, 2014 at the 66th annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology. Details on publishing or posting are not available at this early time.