How To Reduce Your Risk Of Stroke

Strokes have been negatively affecting the general population’s health for decades. In fact, almost 800,000 Americans experience a stroke each year. If you break it down, that’s about one stroke happening every forty seconds. While strokes can cause death, it is possible to be a stroke survivor. However, many survivors continue to struggle with the lasting physical damage and negative side effects strokes can cause.

A stroke is a very serious medical emergency. With the possibility of happening at any age, place, and time, strokes are a danger to the old and young alike. However, you don’t have to live your life in fear of an impending stroke.

This month, take control of your health by learning how to prevent a stroke from happening. While there are some stroke risk factors you can’t control, there are ways to reduce your chance of having a stroke. In fact, 80% of strokes are preventable. Keep reading to learn how you can reduce your risk of stroke. Pay close attention, what you learn here could help save a life.

Lower Your Blood Pressure

If you have high blood pressure, you are doubling, even quadrupling your risk of stroke. It is important that your work with your doctor to monitor your blood pressure and get it under control. Ideally, you want to maintain a blood pressure that is less than 135/85, or in some cases less than 140/90.

High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of increased stroke risk in both men and women. Treating elevated blood pressure is one of the best things you can do to minimize your risk of stroke while simultaneously improving your vascular health.

There are a number of ways to achieve this, including:

  • Reduce your salt intake to no more than 1,500 mg a day. That’s approximately half a teaspoon of salt.
  • Avoid foods that are high in cholesterol, like fatty meats, refined grain products, and saturated fats.
  • Eat 4-5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
  • Consume 1 serving of fish 2-3 times every week.
  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes each day.
  • Quit smoking.

Following these healthy habits will lower your blood pressure and your risk of stroke.

Quit Smoking

Not only is smoking bad for your lungs, it can also accelerate clot formation. Smoking thickens your blood and causes plaque buildup to increase in the arteries. Ending your smoking habit is one of the best lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of stroke.

You can achieve your goal of smoking cessation by doing the following:

Consult with your primary doctor to figure out the most best way for you to quit.
Use effective quit-smoking aids like nicotine pills, medicine, or counseling.
Never give up. It takes many tries for most smokers to successfully quit. Each try is a step closer towards your goal of a healthier, longer life.

Exercise More

Adding exercise to your daily routine is a fantastic way to minimize your chances of having a stroke. In fact, it’s a great way to achieve a number of health goals. Not only does it help lower your blood pressure as previously mentioned, exercise also acts as an independent stoke reducer. Research shows consistent moderate exercise can reduce your risk of stroke by a whopping 27%.

The American Heart Association advises adults to get at least 150 minutes of moderate to intense exercise a week. Or, at the very least, 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity. Here are some activities you can try to increase the amount of exercise in your weekly routine:

  • Start a fitness group with friends.
  • Exercise to the level where you are breathing hard, but are still able to talk.
  • Add more movement in your daily routine, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Take a stroll through the neighborhood after breakfast or during your lunch break.
  • Swim some laps at the local pool.
  • Explore local hiking trails.

Doing any of these activities on a regular basis is a smart way to meet your weekly exercise requirements.

Lose Weight

Being overweight can lead to a series of health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and increased chances of having a stroke. Losing as little as 10 pounds can have a huge effect on your stroke risk. Speak with your primary health care physician to discuss a weight loss strategies and realistic, achievable weight loss goals. Once you start shedding those extra pounds, you’ll also start shedding your risk of stroke.

As you can see, there are a number of ways you can reduce your risk of stroke. You can decrease your chances of experiencing a stroke by living an active lifestyle, maintaining a healthy weight, and making health-conscious decisions. Protect yourself and the health of your loved ones practicing these healthy habits. Make sure to share this vital information with your friends and family. Together we can eliminate the threat of stroke in our community.

Want to learn more ways you reduce your chances of stroke? Speak to your local health care provider to address any questions or concerns you may have. If you live in Monterey County, consider reaching out to Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice. Their award-winning nurses are ready to help you achieve your health goals and reduce your chances of stroke.

What Is Stroke?

Thousands of Americans are affected by stroke each year. In fact, every 40 seconds someone in the United States experiences a stroke. Every 4 minutes, someone dies from stroke. With numbers like this, it is easy to understand why medical professionals are advocating for more stroke awareness. The right stroke education can greatly reduce the number of strokes experienced each year. It can also help you live a healthier life without the fear that a stroke can strike you at any moment.

You may have already heard that May is American Stroke Month. Perhaps you are wondering why health care professionals would devote a whole month to educating the community on stroke. The answer is simple. Studies have shown 80% of strokes may be preventable. With over 800,000 people experiencing a stroke each year, an 80% reduction would be a huge help in reducing the amount of hospital expenses and health issues that affect the average American.

This month, learn everything you can about stroke and stroke prevention. Then do your part by sharing this valuable information with your friends and family. Remember, this knowledge can help save time, money, and lives! Keep reading to learn more about strokes, including warning signs and stroke prevention tips.

What Is Stroke

Medically speaking, a stroke is a sudden interruption of blood supply to your brain. There are several different kinds of strokes a person can experience: Ischemic Strokes, Intracerebral Hemorrhage, and Subarachnoid Hemorrhage.

  • An ischemic stroke is one of the most common type of stroke. It is caused when a clot or another form of blockage happens within an artery that leads to the brain.
  • An intracerebral hemorrhage is a stroke that occurs when an artery within the brain suddenly ruptures. The brain structures then become compressed by the blood that is released into the brain.
  • A subarachnoid hemorrhage is another type of stroke caused by a sudden artery rupture. However, in this type of stroke the rupture caused the released blood to flood the spaces surrounding the brain instead of filling the inside of the brain.

The effects of a stroke depends on which part of the brain is harmed, and the extent of damage caused by the stroke. Regardless of which type of stroke you are experiencing, it is important you notice the warning signs right away and get immediate medical assistance.

How Can I Tell If I’m Having A Stroke?

Far too often, people ignore the signs of stroke because they aren’t sure if their symptoms are real. It’s important that you pay attention to your instincts. Listen to what your body is telling you. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s important you get professional medical help as soon as possible.

Fortunately, there’s a simple way to tell if you’re having a stroke. The National Stroke Association created an easy acronym, F-A-S-T, to help people remember the warning signs of stroke. Here’s the acronym broken down for you:

  • “F” stands for face. One warning sign of a stroke is having one side of your face droop when you smile.
  • “A” stands for arms. A second warning sign of stroke is having one of your arms drift back down right after you lift both arms.
  • “S” stands for speech. A third warning sign is slurred speech or speaking oddly.
  • "T” stands for time. If you notice any of these 3 major stroke signs in yourself or someone else, call 911 immediately.

The letters spell fast because it is important you act fast. Getting medical treatment within 3 hours from when the first stroke symptom began can be the difference between recovery and a lasting disability.

In addition to the 3 symptoms identified in F-A-S-T, there are a few other signs of stroke. Other symptoms of stroke that you should be aware of include:

  • Your face feels numb
  • Loss of vision
  • Tingling and numbness
  • Unsteady walk
  • Weakness on one side of your body
  • Unusual and severe headache

What Should I Do If I’m Having A Stroke?

If you’re having a stroke you must get medical attention immediately. Once you’ve identified a stroke using F-A-S-T, call 911. If you’re having a stroke and are unable to speak, ask anyone nearby to make the call for you.

Remember, it’s crucial that you get treatment within the first 3 hours of your first stroke symptom. Make sure you note the time of the first symptom. Many stroke treatments are time sensitive. By keeping track of the start of a stroke, you can give the emergency staff the opportunity to make more informed decisions about treatment options.

If you think you are having a stroke, do not take any medication. For some specific kind of strokes called Ischemic strokes, taking an aspirin can be dangerous. Stay safe by avoiding any medication until the emergency staff can identify what type of stroke you are experiencing.

Strokes can also affect a person’s ability to swallow so avoid giving anyone who may be having a stroke food or drinks. You don’t want to cause anyone to accidentally choke while having a stroke.

How Can I Prevent A Stroke?

A stroke can happen to anyone at any time, regardless of age or gender. However, research shows that 80% of strokes are preventable. By making healthy lifestyle changes, such as exercising on a regular basis and having a nutritious diet, you can greatly decrease your chances of having a stroke.

You can also minimize your risk of stroke decreasing any risky activities. Losing excess weight, lowering your blood pressure to a healthy level, keeping your blood sugar down, and quitting your smoking habit are all excellent ways to reduce your risk of stroke.