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  • Eva Kavanagh

How to Reduce Stroke Risk

Each year in the US, more than 795,000 people have a stroke and 140,000 people die from it. It costs $34 billion annually and is the leading cause of serious disability. Strokes are scary. Not only are they potentially deadly, but patients who survive a stroke are often left with partial paralysis, difficulty speaking, and personality changes.

What is the impact of lifestyle on stroke incidence? The data from 188 countries show more than 90% of stroke is attributable to these modifiable risk factors: dietary, physical activity, tobacco smoke, air pollution/environmental, and physiological. And most of them can be prevented.

The risk of stroke increases with age, but unfortunately, younger generations aren't off the hook. Recent studies have shown a higher rate of people below the age of 55 having strokes. Strokes are especially common in people over the age of 65! It is important to better understand the risk factors associated with strokes to make the right changes to your lifestyle.

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Reduce Stroke Risk

Eight important factors were directly related to diet:

  1. Diet low in fruits

  2. Diet high in sodium

  3. Diet low in vegetables

  4. Diet low in whole grains

  5. High fasting plasma glucose

  6. High total cholesterol

  7. Diet high in sugar-sweetened beverages.

  8. Alcohol use

If caught early enough and brought to the ER, a person's Stroke can be completely reversed with a clot-dissolving medication such as TPA (tissue plasminogen activator) if caught early enough and brought to the ER. This must occur within 3 hours of stroke onset, so if there are any signs of a family member having some neurological deficit, wary on the side of caution.

For a quick check and recognition of acute neurological changes, use the signs:

  • Have the person smile, looking for drooping of one side of the mouth

  • Ask him/her to talk and listen for mild changes in speech

  • Ask the person to raise both arms in front of them to note any weakness

  • You can also have the patient stick out their tongue to see if it droops unevenly to one side. Also check strength in raising their legs, as strikes can be isolated to affecting only lower extremities

If any deficits are found, take the person to the ER as soon as possible and let the registrar know of your findings to expedite their entry to a room. Don't feel silly if it ends up being nothing once you're at the hospital. Any neuro deficit should be taken seriously and have an appropriate medical workup.

We need to bring awareness to the signs, symptoms, and prevention of stroke! 1 in 4 people will suffer a stroke in their lifetime. Stroke is the leading cause of disability worldwide and the second leading cause of death. Strokes do not discriminate. They can happen to anyone, regardless of age. Time loss is brain loss and it is critically important to recognize the signs. Symptoms may include weakness or numbness (especially on one side of the body), confusion, and difficulty speaking and walking.

Tips to protect against stroke:

  • See your doctor regularly and check your blood pressure

  • Regular exercise will not only reduce the risk factors of strokes but will enhance many other parts of your life!

  • Eat healthy food. Do not overeat, especially fatty, sugary and salty foods

  • Stop smoking and limit your alcohol

  • Do not stress. Learn ways to deal with stressful situations, such as with deep breathing

  • Get optimal sleep – at least 6 hours of sleep every night

  • Control atrial fibrillation. Get checked by your doctor for irregular heartbeats, which can lead to stroke

  • Manage diabetes. High blood sugar damages blood vessels, which makes it more likely that clots with form

  • Be optimistic. Studies found a 50% reduction in cardiovascular disease for those who scored highest for optimism and vitality

Maintain healthy habits to help reduce your risk of stroke and learn to recognize the symptoms for yourself and others!

For more information please call Century Medical at (978) 594-8980 or contact us online.

Schedule your consultations with the best doctors in Peabody, MA!


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