How To Reduce Stroke Risk – Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States suffers a stroke. And every 3.5 minutes, someone dies of a stroke. Here are five ways to reduce your risk of stroke and improve your overall health.
The risk of stroke is greater for people over the age of 65 and for those who are genetically predisposed or have other health conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Talk to your doctor about your numbers, what goals you need to meet, and what medication options are right for you.
Exercise is the best medicine, especially for those at risk of stroke. Research shows that 30 minutes of moderate exercise — including low-intensity exercise like walking and yoga — five days a week can lower your chances of stroke and the number on the scale.
Instead of reaching for the cellophane-wrapped snack, opt for a bowl of fruit instead. Improve your cholesterol by including the right combination of foods in your diet – and the more healthy the better. Be consistent and watch your food intake and you will begin to see the fruits of your labor.
Don’t let your health go up in smoke. If you are a smoker or a vaper, now is the time to quit. Time to quit smoking shows that within 20 minutes of quitting, your heart rate slows down – and within one to five years, you significantly reduce your risk of cardiovascular events, including stroke.
Chronic stress can damage the nervous system, send cortisol (the stress hormone that causes the fight-or-flight response) into overdrive and put you at greater risk of stroke. Build some time into your schedule for self-care activities like yoga, mindfulness practices, and sleep hygiene.
Find a doctor or center near you so you can get the health you need, when you need it. A stroke is when blood flow to the brain is interrupted or reduced. This happens when the blood vessels to the brain burst or become blocked by a valve, known as hemorrhagic and ischemic strokes. Without blood flow, brain cells begin to die, causing irreversible damage. According to the American Stroke Association, stroke is the 5th leading cause of death and disability in the United States.
Another type of ischemic stroke is a transient ischemic attack, or TIA. Often referred to as “mini-strokes,” TIAs present with signs and symptoms of a stroke, but resolve quickly and do not cause permanent damage. Regardless, a TIA can serve as a warning sign of a future stroke and should be taken seriously and treated immediately. If you have been diagnosed with a TIA, it is important to follow your doctor’s advice and make the necessary lifestyle changes to reduce your chances of a future stroke.
It is important to remember the signs of a stroke and learn how to reduce the risk to yourself and your loved ones. Symptoms of a stroke may include:
If you or someone you know has any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately. The sooner a stroke is treated, the better the chances of recovery. At the first sign of a stroke, remember to act FAST:
Talk to your doctor before changing your diet and physical activity. If you have been prescribed medication for any of the above reasons, it is important to follow your doctor’s instructions and inform them of any changes in your lifestyle. A stroke occurs when blood flow to part of the brain is cut off or reduced, preventing oxygen and nutrients from reaching the brain. Within minutes, brain cells begin to die. There is a ton of information out there about how to recognize when a stroke is occurring, but what if you were able to prevent it?
A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is stopped or interrupted. Did you know that not all shots are created equal? There are two types:
A stroke can happen to anyone at any age. However, certain factors can increase your risk of developing it. Understanding your risk and the risk of your loved ones is the first step to prevention.
Many of the risk factors associated with stroke are lifestyle related. The good news is that you have the power to reduce your risk by making better daily decisions. Examples include:
As with many cardiometabolic diseases, the risk increases with the number of risk factors. Some dangerous things are unavoidable. This includes gender, age, race and family history. As we get older, we become more vulnerable to diseases. In the event of a stroke, another important risk factor to consider is atrial fibrillation, or an irregular heartbeat. According to Dr. Ford Brewer of PrevMed, most strokes can be attributed to atrial fibrillation.
When it comes to stroke, time is of the essence when it comes to finding out that you or someone close to you has one. The American Stroke Association and the American Heart Association are two major organizations that recommend the FAST score (face drooping, hand weakness, difficulty speaking, time) to identify stroke symptoms.
In addition to knowing your risk, there are many things you can do to prevent stroke. After a short health assessment, the app will suggest the appropriate laboratory test to help you determine your risk. Unfortunately, most of these tests are not performed on otherwise “healthy” people. Based on your results, the app recommends lifestyle changes, questions to ask your doctor, and a possible follow-up cognitive test.
Among these lifestyle changes, recommendations may include reducing alcohol consumption, making healthy eating choices (fruits, vegetables, reducing sugar, etc.), quitting smoking, increasing physical activity, etc.
Since the app does not provide treatment, a discussion with your healthcare provider will be important in deciding if and when to use certain medications. Examples include anticoagulants (blood thinners), blood pressure medications, statins, diabetes medications, and antiplatelets. The app gives you the best questions to ask your provider so you can make informed decisions. May was Stroke Awareness Month. Dr. Olajide Williams, my colleague and friend at Columbia University Medical Center, was a great teacher of the importance of early recognition of stroke symptoms. Getting a person to a stroke center as soon as possible to receive the most effective treatment can mean the difference between a full recovery and permanent disability.
795,000 Americans will have a stroke this year. That’s one strike in the US every 40 seconds. During a stroke, the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain is interrupted. This is also called a “brain attack” because brain cells begin to die within minutes.
In his book, The Stroke Diaries, Dr. Williams tells the personal stories of stroke patients and their families. He gives a cutting-edge look at new stroke drugs that work, I would say, surprisingly, if someone gets treatment in a short time.
As I review these stroke symptoms after Memorial Day weekend, I am reminded of a night more than 40 years ago that will always be etched in my memory. Although he was a good runner, my father smoked like a chimney. You say: cigarettes, pipes and, yes, tons of cigarettes. He smoked day and night.
When he was 45 years old, he had an enlarged heart and had to leave his beloved yard and move closer to his job in New York. One night we were all watching Johnny Carson on late night TV and my father had a stroke. It seemed like forever for an ambulance to arrive. He quit smoking and struggled to regain his speech, but never regained his physical strength.
The book of Dr. Williams also offers effective, life-saving stroke advice. The stroke risk table above shows the “big five” treatable stroke risk factors. Here are a few stroke prevention strategies found in Dr. Williams’ Stroke Diaries:
Increasing fruit and vegetable consumption to five servings a day can reduce the risk of stroke. Fresh fruits and vegetables are rich in potassium, and low levels of potassium in the blood are associated with an increased risk of stroke.
It is my sincere hope that awareness of stroke reaches as many families and communities as possible with the word of Dr. Williams that stroke can be prevented and, if necessary, treated effectively by getting the person to the nearest stroke center as soon as possible.
Dr. Seidman is the author of “Smoking Free in 30 Days: The Painless, Permanent Way to Quit” featuring Dr. Mehmet Oz. The audiobook is available from Random House. Dr. Seidman began introducing his own smoking cessation program as a featured expert on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” with Dr. Oz in early 2008, after 20 years of helping smokers at Columbia University. For more information about the book, go to www.danielfseidman.com. Dr. Seidman wrote here about his father’s life, smoking and his stroke.
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