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Most Strokes Can Be Prevented – Know the Risk Factors

A Quick Overview of Stroke

Stroke is a medical emergency. It occurs when the brain’s blood vessels become clogged or rupture. In any case, a certain area of the brain does not get its usual supply of the oxygen and essential nutrients. As a result, the oxygen-deprived area may die or sustain permanent damages. A stroke is also called brain attack (do not confuse with aheart attack).

The types of stroke are:

  • Ischemic stroke. It results when the brain’s blood vessels cannot supply oxygen to the brain tissues due to some obstruction. The most common obstructions are blood clots and fatty deposits on their inner walls.
  • Hemorrhagic stroke. When any of the brain’s blood vessels ruptures, there is an accumulation of blood in that area. Consequently, it damages the brain tissues in the nearby areas too.

The problem with having a stroke is that it can leave some permanent damage in the brain. In this way, it may also contribute to some long-term disabilities.

Stroke In The US: What Do Stats Say?

Statistics on strokes indicate it ranks 5th in the list of leading causes of death in the US. In fact, death due to stroke occurs every four minutes. Regrettably, the rate is even higher for black people. Note that heart disorders, cancer, respiratory disorders, and accidents are the top four causes of death.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),

  • Stroke is responsible for 1 out of every 20 deaths.
  • It affects more than 795,000 people every year. Among them, about 610,000 have it for the first time.
  • Nearly 1 out every 4 previous patients of stroke develops another stroke.
  • Ischemic stroke accounts for up to 90% of all cases of stroke.
  • The economic burden of stroke in the United States is about $33 billion each year.
  • Long-term disability like limited mobility is a major problem in stroke survivors. In fact, more than 50% of survivors aged 65 or over experience some kinds of problems with movement.

Can You Prevent Stokes?

Of course.The first thing you should know is that most strokes can be prevented. And with timely treatment, you can expect better recovery. Also, you might be able to prevent long-term disabilities. Make sure you understand the risk factors.

What Are The Risk Factors For Stroke?

  • Increasing age is a natural and non-modifiable risk factor for stroke. But, this, in no way, means that only older people get strokes. In fact, strokes can affect people of any age. For example, in 2009, people younger than 65 constituted 34% of hospitalized strokes patients. With this being said, you have to put more focus on risk factors that you can change.
  • High blood pressure. Schedule a visit with your doctor if your blood pressure is 140/90 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) or more for an extended period of time.
  • This chronic disorder of glucose metabolism may also boost other risk factors like high blood pressure and heart diseases.
  • Heart diseases like Coronary heart disease (CHD), cardiomyopathy, heart failure, and atrial fibrillation can cause strokes by blocking the blood supply to the brain.
  • It increases blood pressure and damages the blood vessels. Meaning, smoking is a risk factor for both strokes as well as many other diseases. Visit your doctor to learn how to quit smoking.
  • High cholesterol. High levels of fatty substances in the bloodstream may deposit on the inner walls of the blood vessels. Consequently, fatty deposits reduce blood flow.

What You Can Do to Reduce the Risks

  • Control blood pressure. If you have not developed high blood pressure, take measures to prevent it. For example, eat a healthy diet, stay active, and do not smoke. If you have medications, take them and follow other lifestyle changes upon recommendation by your doctor. In any case, check your blood pressure on a regular basis. Ask your doctor if when and how often you should get checked.
  • Check your cholesterol. Doctors recommend checking your cholesterol level at least once every 5 years. If you are obese or eat an unhealthy diet, you may need to check it more often.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity is a known risk factor for a plethora of health disorders. With this being said, you should aim for a healthy weight irrespective of your current health condition. Body mass index (BMI) is a simple tool to test if your weight is healthy. Ask your doctor or use a BMI calculator.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Feast on fresh fruits and vegetables. Increase your fiber intake and limit consumption of salt, trans fat, and cholesterol. That way, you can also prevent many other heart diseases.
  • Quit smoking. If you do not smoke, do not start. If you are a smoker, quit. Seek professional help if you cannot give it up on your own.
  • Keep blood sugar in check. Take a regular blood glucose test. Also, do not forget to continue eating healthy and staying active.
  • Limit alcohol intake. Well, it isn’t a new concept that alcohol damages your heart and blood vessels. Drink in moderation. Talk to your doctor about the appropriate limit for your body.
  • Stick to your medication plan. The risk of a major stroke rises significantly in those patients with high cholesterol and high blood pressure who do not take their prescribed medications. On a positive note, you can reduce the risk by complying with treatment. (This 2016 study was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology)

Act Now To Prevent Strokes

It is a known fact that early diagnosis is key to ensuring success of a treatment program. Because stroke is a serious condition, any delay in seeking a medical help can lead to a catastrophic result. You should know when to call 911. As a matter of fact, getting emergency treatment within 3 hours of an attack can slash the rate of disability by a huge margin.

Want to Know More?

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