7 ways to reduce your risk of stroke
Stroke is the second leading cause of death in the world, according to the American Heart Association. Given the dangers and high risk, health experts say it’s critical people arm themselves with knowledge about prevention and treatment.
According to the National Institutes of Health, stroke is a medical emergency where blood flow is cut off from the brain, causing brain cells to die. There are three main types of stroke: ischemic, hemorrhagic and transient ischemic attacks.
Ischemic stroke, the most common, occurs when an artery to the brain becomes blocked by a blood clot. Hemorrhagic stroke happens when an artery in the brain ruptures or leaks blood. TIAs, or “mini-strokes,” are when blood flow to the brain is blocked for a very short time, typically under five minutes.
Dr. Curtis Hayden, an Advocate Medical Group neurologist at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill., says signs of stroke include confusion, trouble seeing, intense headache, dizziness and numbness on one side of the body.
“If you or someone around you experiences these symptoms, get to the hospital as quickly as possible,” Dr. Hayden says.
In order to reduce the occurrence of this emergency, AHA offers seven factors that are key in stroke prevention:
- Physical activity is essential. It keeps your entire body healthy.
- Stop smoking. Ask your doctor about the best ways to quit the nicotine addiction.
- Watch your waistline. Nearly 70 percent of American adults are overweight, which greatly increases the risk for stroke.
- Eat right. A heart-healthy diet can physically make you feel better. Be sure to eat less salt and have more whole grains.
- Control your blood sugar. High numbers can be dangerous to your eyes, heart, nerves and kidneys.
- Monitor your blood pressure. Keeping this number in check means less strain on your heart.
- Manage your cholesterol. Reducing your LDL (bad cholesterol) allows your arteries to stay clear from stroke.
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