The National Stroke Association says that in the United States, stroke is the third leading cause of death, killing about 137,000 people each year. It’s also a leading cause of serious, long-term adult disability. Approximately 795,000 strokes will occur this year. With those numbers, it’s likely that stroke will affect you at some point in your lifetime. However, it doesn’t have to.
Stroke Prevention Tips
Consider these guidelines for avoiding stroke and decreasing your risk.
Eat a healthy diet. Choosing healthy meal and snack options can help you avoid stroke. Eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables is important. Limiting salt or sodium in your diet can also help lower your blood pressure.
Maintain a healthy weight, and incorporate exercise into your life. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for stroke. Exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. The Surgeon General recommends that adults should engage in moderate-intensity exercise for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.
Don’t smoke. Aside from what it does to your lungs, smoking greatly increases your risk for stroke.
Limit alcohol use. If you are going to drink, do it in moderation. Excessive drinking causes high blood pressure.
If you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides the following tips:
- Have your cholesterol checked. Your health care provider should test your cholesterol levels at least once every five years.
- Monitor your blood pressure. High blood pressure has no symptoms, so be sure to have it checked on a regular basis.
- Manage your diabetes. If you have diabetes, closely monitor your blood sugar levels. Talk with your health care provider about treatment options.
- Take your medicine. If you are prescribed medication, be sure to follow the directions completely and consistently.
- Talk with your health care provider. You and your doctor can work together to prevent or treat the medical conditions that lead to heart disease. Discuss your treatment plan regularly and bring a list of questions to your appointments.
Stroke Treatment Tips
If you think that some you know is having a stroke, use FAST as a guideline:
- Face—Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
- Arms—Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
- Speech—Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is speech slurred or strange?
- Time—If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.
Treatment for stroke may include a clot-dissolving drug tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), which restores blood flow to the brain. Some patients may require surgery to reopen blood vessels. Most patients will also require hospital care and rehabilitation.
Remember that time is a critical component in stroke treatment. Fast treatment means a better chance for recovery and less long-term damage. For more information on stroke, including rehabilitation and current research, join us on Wednesday for a special seminar here at St. Petersburg General Hospital. To get information about the event or to register, please call 1-888-741-5122.
Stroke: What You Can Do (CDC)
Stroke Prevention (National Stroke Association)
Stroke Treatment (American Heart Association)