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Community News

Reduce Your Risk for a Stroke

From Issue: Volume XXII - Number 9
5/2/2014


By Nima Ramezan, M.D.

On average, one American dies from stroke every four minutes. Knowing your stroke risk factors, following your doctor’s recommendations and living a healthy lifestyle are the best steps you can take to prevent a stroke.

Controllable risk factors generally fall into two categories: lifestyle risk factors or medical risk factors. Lifestyle risk factors can often be changed, while medical risk factors can usually be treated. Both types can be managed best by working with your doctor, who can prescribe medications and advise on how to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

Controllable Risk Factors:
-High Blood Pressure (hypertension)
-Atrial Fibrillation
-High Cholesterol
-Diabetes
-Atherosclerosis
-Circulation Problems
-Tobacco Use and Smoking
-Alcohol Use
-Physical Inactivity
-Obesity

Uncontrollable Risk Factors:
-Age
-Gender
-Race
-Family History
-Previous Stroke or Transient Ischemic Attack

Leading a healthy lifestyle reduces your risk of ischemic stroke, the most common form of stroke, by approximately 80 percent.

4 Things to Start Now to Reduce Your Risk

1. Exercise Regularly
Exercise helps reduce blood pressure, a stroke risk factor, by making your heart stronger. The stronger your heart is, the less effort it takes to pump blood around your body — and the lower your blood pressure.

2. Control Your Weight
Being overweight puts you at a higher risk of developing high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes – all of which can increase risk for stroke. Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and physical activity is important for stroke prevention.

3. Eat Healthy
Diets high in saturated fat and cholesterol can raise blood-cholesterol levels. By adding healthy fruits, vegetables and drink options in your diet, you can improve your overall health and decrease your risk of stroke. According to multiple studies, individuals who consumed five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day reduced their risk of stroke by 30 percent.

These Foods Have the Highest Impact on Reducing Risk of Stroke:
-Broccoli
-Cabbage
-Cauliflower
-Brussel sprouts
-Green leafy vegetables such as spinach or kale
-Pear
-Apple
-Green tea

4. Stop Smoking
Smoking doubles your risk for stroke when compared to a non-smoker. It reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood, causing the heart to work harder and allowing blood clots to form more easily. Smoking also increases the amount of build-up in the arteries, which may block the flow of blood to the brain, causing a stroke. The good news – quit smoking – and your overall stroke risk will be greatly reduced.

Know the Signs
Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a stroke. That’s 2,160 strokes each day; and 15,120 strokes a week. Yet even though stroke is the fourth leading cause of death and leading cause of adult disability, most people cannot identify warning signs or risk factors.

To recognize the signs and symptoms of a stroke remember the acronym: F.A.S.T.

-F: Facial Droop
-A: Arm or leg weakness or numbness especially on one side of the body
-S: Speech: Difficulty speaking or understanding speech/slurred speech
-T: Time – A Stroke is a medical emergency, call 9-1-1 immediately

A stroke is a medical emergency and being able to recognize and respond to stroke symptoms F.A.S.T. can save lives.

For more information on strokes log on to Memorialcare.org/LBStroke or call (562) 933-4006

Dr. Ramezan is the medical director of the stroke program at MemorialCare Neuroscience Institute.