Start Now to Reduce Your Stroke Risks
Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood institute.


Don’t delay: That’s the most important thing to know about stroke. You shouldn’t wait to get help if you’re having a stroke. You shouldn’t wait to do the things that may prevent you from having a stroke in the first place.

Stroke, a condition that occurs when adequate blood isn’t reaching the brain, can rob people of their independence and result in death or long - term disability. There are may steps you can take to reduce your risks, and you can start taking them today.

Certain stroke risk factors, such as age and race, are out of our control. For example, nearly three-quarters of all strokes occur in people older than 65, reports the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). And stroke is more common among African American than people of other races.

However, there are some risks we can control. To reduce your chances of stroke:

Don’t smoke. According to the NINDS, cigarette smoking can contribute to the buildup of fatty substances in the carotid artery of the neck. This buildup can cause blockages that lead to stroke.

Smoking also makes your blood thicker and more likely to clot, which could result in blocked arteries.

If you smoke, talk to your doctor about quitting. Even if you’ve tried and failed before, there are medications and programs that can help you kick the habit for good.

Control your blood pressure. Blood pressure that’s too high stresses your blood vessels and arteries and contributes to the ris of blockages and blood clots that could result in a stroke.

You should have your blood pressure checked regularly. The goal is to keep readings below 120/80 mm Hg, advises the American Heart Association.

You may help reduce high blood pressure by exercising 30 minutes or more on most days of the week and by eating a diet that’s low in salt and high in fruits and vegetables. Eating more potassium - found in sweet potatoes, bananas, fish and other foods - may also help.

If these changes aren’t enough, your doctor may prescribe medicines too.

Keep cholesterol in check. High blood cholesterol can result in deposits of fat in your arteries. This can contribute to blood clots that block blood flow to the heart, causing a heart attack, or to the brain, causing a stroke.

Ask your doctor how often you should get your cholesterol checked. If your levels aren’t where they should be, exercising more and eating a low-fat diet can help get them to healthier levels. A doctor may also prescribe medicines.

Manage diabetes. Diabetes that’s not under control can harm blood vessels throughout the body, including those inside the brain. Keeping diabetes under control will help prevent health problems. Know your target blood sugar levels, how to check them and what to do if they become too high.

Know how to spot a stroke

Call 911 or emergency at once if you spot sign of stroke in yourself or anyone else, urges the NINDS. The quicker you get treatment, the greater the chance of survival and the less likelihood of severe disabilities.

Warning signs may include sudden;
>> Numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
>> Confusion or trouble talking or understanding.
>> Trouble seeing from one or both eyes
>> Trouble walking or dizziness
>> Severe headaches with no known cause

In some cases, these symptoms may last only a few moments, in which case they could signal a transient ischemic attack, or mini-stroke. Alert a doctor about these too.

Recovering Through Rehabilitation

Many times, stroke means loss. You may lose your ability to walk or move your body like you did before. Your speech or communication skills can affected. You may have difficulty remembering or thinking clearly.

Some people even lose their ability to perform daily tasks and live on their own. But, in my cases, rehabilitation can help regain your independence.

Recovering physically. Stroke rehabilitation starts soon after a stroke-sometimes within 24 to 48 hours of the stroke itself. Hospital rehabilitation specialists may begin by helping you exercise the arms and legs affected by stroke. This can help you recover strength and control of your body.

Eventually, you may start working on sitting up and moving between the bed and chair and then standing and walking, with or without help.

After leaving the hospital, further rehabilitation in a nursing center or at home is possible.

Returning life skills. Along with walking and moving around, rehabilitation can help you reain or find new ways to do your job, dress, bathe, cook and eat.

You may also work on improving your speech, language, problem solving and social skills. The idea is to help you live as independently as possible.

The succes of rehabilitation depends on the extent of damage to the brain. Your health care team can give you more information about your specific care.

Sources: American Stroke Association, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

A quick and easy test can reveal narrowed arteries

If your doctor suspects you’re at risk for stroke, a quick test may offer some insight.

Carotid ultrasound uses sound waves to create images of the two carotid arteries in your neck. Narrowing of these arteries because of palque-a combination of fat, cholesterol and other substances found in the blood-can increase your chances of having a stroke.

A doctor might suggest this test if you have stroke risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol or diabetes; a family history of stroke; or hard a stroke previously.

The painless test takes about 30 minutes. In most cases, you’ll lie on an examination table while a radiologist runs a wand against the outside of your neck. The ultrasound images are transmitted from the wand to a monitor.

In some cases, radiologist or your doctor may discuss preliminary results with you immediately after the test.

If the test shows narrowed arteries, your doctor may recommend medical or surgical treatments to help open the arteries and reduce your stroke risk.

Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood institute.

To learn more about the signs, symptoms, prevention and treatment of stroke, visit us online at
Click on “Health Resources” and search the encyclopedia for “Stroke.”
Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood institute.

To learn more about the signs, symptoms, prevention and treatment of stroke, visit us online at
Click on “Health Resources” and search the encyclopedia for “Stroke.”