How to Lower Your Risk of Having a Stroke
In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds. Almost 800,000 people have a stroke each year, approximately 140,000 dies, and many survivors face disability.
There are two types of stroke – ischemic and hemorrhagic. With an ischemic stroke, a blood clot blocks or “plugs” a blood vessel in the brain. With a hemorrhagic stroke, a blood vessel in the brain breaks or ruptures. Strokes are scary not only because they are potentially deadly, but patients who survive a stroke are often left with partial paralysis, difficulty speaking, and personality changes.
Stroke is one of the leading causes of death and long-term disabilities in the US. But more than 80% of strokes can be prevented. You can help prevent stroke by making healthy choices and controlling health conditions you may have.
Here are some tips to reduce your stroke risk:
Maintain a healthy weight
Do not eat processed foods - they are loaded with salt
Read labels and stay < 5 grams sodium per day
Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol level low
Get a restful night’s sleep
Learn to manage stress
Look at your work life and set boundaries
Exercise! Every bit helps
Manage your chronic conditions such as diabetes
Limit alcohol. If are you using alcohol as a quick way to help you relax after a stressful day at the job, cut back to no more than 1 drink per day or better yet 1 per week.
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is reduced, which prevents the brain tissue from getting oxygen. This can be due to a blocked artery or leakage from a blood vessel. If a stroke is caused by a blocked blood vessel this can usually be reversed if treated within 4.5 hours from the onset of symptoms (some mild benefit has been seen up to 6 hours later). The sooner the drugs are given to unblock the vessel the better the outcome. With a stroke, every second matter. The faster you recognize the warning signs and get treatment, the better the outcome of survival.
What you should know about early stroke detection:
Have the person smile, looking for drooping of one side of the mouth. Does one side of the face droop or is it numb?
Ask him/her to talk and repeat a simple phrase. Listen for mild changes in speech. Is the speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak? Is the person unable to understand?
Ask the person to raise both arms in front of them to note any weakness. Is one arm weak or numb? Does one arm drift downwards or not lift at all?
If someone shows any of these signs and symptoms you need to call 911 immediately. Always document the time the first symptoms appeared.