The easy way to keep a stroke from destroying your brain

A stroke can be a devastating event, leaving you paralyzed or dead. But researchers have discovered a simple method to improve your chances of avoiding its deadly consequences.

Drink plenty of water.

A study at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore shows that people who are fully hydrated when they suffer a stroke enjoy a much better chance of fully recovering.

The researchers analyzed lab tests and the MRI scans of more than 160 people who suffered ischemic strokes – strokes linked to blood clots – in 2013 and 2014. The scientists also used measurements of kidney function (BUN/creatine ratio and urine specific gravity), to find out how well-hydrated each patient was.

Almost half of the hospitalized stroke victims were found to be dehydrated.

Related: The best drink for staying hydrated (Hint: it’s not Gatorade)

The condition of more than 40 percent of the dehydrated patients deteriorated once they were in the hospital. But that only happened to 17 percent of the people who were fully-hydrated.

And the researchers report that dehydration quadruples your risk of having a more harmful stroke outcome.

“Perhaps we should be giving more fluids to patients after stroke… but that’s not what providers consistently do,” says Hopkins researcher Mona Bahouth.

Accepted medical hospital protocols currently recommend against giving fluids during a stroke to limit heart problems. Doctors fear that extra water may cause fluid to back up into the lungs. And drinking water is countermanded because it can lead to choking.

“Previous studies suggest that about 60 percent of people are dehydrated at the time of stroke,” says Bahouth. “Perhaps there is opportunity for intervention for this group of patients using simple hydration strategies.”

Carl Lowe

By Carl Lowe

has written about health, fitness and nutrition for a wide range of publications including Prevention Magazine, Self Magazine and Time-Life Books. The author of more than a dozen books, he has been gluten-free since 2007.