Stroke 101: Ways to Help Prevent a Stroke

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Stroke is not a word we like to hear, but the reality is that a stroke happens every 40 seconds and is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. So you’ve probably heard of a time or two. Whether you’ve personally been affected by this scary “brain attack”, you know someone who has or you want to try to prevent it, reading articles or blog posts like this one could prove helpful as you navigate through life.

What is a stroke exactly? According to the National Stroke Association, a stroke occurs when blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off and brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die. Abilities controlled by that area of the brain such as memory and muscle control can be lost. How much a person is affected by the stroke all depends on where it occurs and how much of the brain is damaged as a result. There are survivors of stroke, but more than 2/3 of survivors will have some type of disability.

A myth about strokes is that it cannot be prevented. According to the National Stroke Association, up to 80% of strokes are preventable. There are several myths about strokes and facts that are worth reading on their website. Take a look here: http://www.stroke.org/understand-stroke/what-stroke/stroke-facts.

So what can you do to help prevent a stroke? Below are several important risk factors that could make you more susceptible to having a stroke. If possible, try to eliminate the risk factors that you can.

High blood pressure is one of the biggest risk factors for a stroke. In fact, it is the no. 1 cause of stroke. For an adult, anything above 140/90 is considered high blood pressure. If your doctor has discovered that you have high blood pressure, be sure to take their recommendations and prevention seriously. Luckily, there are several things you can do to help reduce your blood pressure. Talk to your doctor immediately if you discover that you have high blood pressure on your own. Don’t wait. Be sure to follow up and have it checked regularly.

Other risk factors include, according to the American Heart Association:

  • Tobacco use
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Weight
  • Excessive alcohol use

Risk factors that you cannot control:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Hereditary
  • Race
  • Prior stroke

There are a few warning signs and symptoms of stroke. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these, call 9-1-1 for help immediately. The acronym that most people use to help them remember the signs is F.A.S.T.

F = Face drooping
A = Arm weakness
S = Speech difficulty
T = Time to call 9-1-1

Other symptoms mentioned by the American Heart Association include:

  • Numbness
  • Confusion
  • Trouble seeing or walking
  • Sever headache

We hope you or a loved one never has to experience a stroke. It can be incredibly debilitating or deadly. Do what you can to help prevent a stroke. Remember that 80% can be prevented if you take the right precautions and try to live a more active and healthy lifestyle. If you are ever in doubt, it’s best to call 9-1-1 or your doctor right away.

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