Home HEALTH Could squeezing your arms, legs help prevent strokes?

Could squeezing your arms, legs help prevent strokes?

A simple squeeze to your arms and legs might benefit your brain — turns out, the added pressure may improve the regulation of blood flow to your brain as well as levels of stroke protective molecules, a new study suggests. The study found that people who wore an inflated blood pressure cuff on one arm and leg for minutes at a time experienced more controlled blood flow to their brains. This method also increased molecules in the blood previously suggested to play a protective role in the brain, such as in preventing stroke, a group of researchers reported today (May 29) in the journal Neurology.
Previous research has suggested that “training” organs by restricting blood flow — and therefore oxygen — to them through periodically compressing the arms and legs may make them more resilient when problems arise.
For example, a trained heart may be more resistant to changes in blood flow during a heart attack. And such training may allow the brain to better regulate that organ’s blood flow despite changes in blood pressure, a process called “cerebral auto regulation,” the authors said.
“It is generally believed that impairment of cerebral auto regulation may increase the risk of brain injury, especially stroke,” said study senior author Dr. Yi Yang, a neurologist at the First Hospital of Jilin University in China. “And there is currently no report on how to improve cerebral auto regulation in order to reduce the risk.”
The researchers are optimistic that these simple compressions to the arms and legs may help reduce the risk of stroke, but much more research will be needed before any conclusions about stroke prevention can be drawn. In the new study, the researchers enrolled nearly 50 healthy people who were, on average, 35 years of age. Each person went through two consecutive days of blood pressure monitoring. On the second day, they were hooked up to blood pressure cuffs, one on the upper arm and one on the thigh.
The blood pressure cuff was inflated for 5 minutes and then deflated for 5 minutes, and this process was repeated four times. The researchers took participants’ blood pressure at the start of the day and periodically throughout the next 24 hours. They found that 6 hours after having the cuff compressions, people had improved cerebral auto regulation, which remained improved for at least 18 hours. The researchers measured cerebral autoregulation in part by using an ultrasound to measure blood flow within the brain’s two main arteries.