The word "stroke" sounds scary, but the reality is that 80 percent of strokes are preventable.
By either managing key risk factors ahead of time, or through medical treatment, you can greatly decrease your chances. So, what can you do to prevent yourself or your loved ones from suffering a stroke?
Be the 80 percent: Tips for Preventing Stroke
You can take steps now to be stroke smart. And here’s a bonus: Most of these tips do double and triple duty by helping you prevent a heart attack and other diseases.
- Monitor your blood pressure. Hypertension puts you at risk, so knowing your blood pressure is key.
- Know if you have Afib. It’s short for atrial fibrillation, or an irregular and sometimes rapid heart rate that causes poor blood flow to the body. Symptoms include shortness of breath, heart palpitations and weakness.
- Stop smoking. That’s a solid piece of advice for any health-related issue, but especially stroke prevention. Smoking doubles your risk for stroke, compared to a non-smoker, according to the American Stroke Association.
- Control alcohol use. If you’re more than a social drinker, and enjoy upwards of two drinks a day, you could be in a stroke danger zone. Drinking that much can increase your risk for stroke by 50 percent, says the American Stroke Association. And no cheating on your measurements – 1 drink equals only 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of liquor.
- Treat and control diabetes. People with diabetes have to work hard to control their blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol – every day. But if you don’t work hard to protect your health, exercise and eat right, you could be 2-4 times more likely to suffer a stroke than someone without diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.
- Monitor your cholesterol level. Knowing those numbers is as important as knowing a PIN number or emergency contact, even though they come up less frequently in daily life, so watch that HDL, LDL and triglyceride count.
- Exercise and manage your diet. It’s not only good for overall health, but keeping your sodium and fat intake low, and loading up on fruits and veggies helps fight the risk of stroke.
- Manage sleep apnea. When untreated, this sleeping condition is linked to higher incidence of stroke – as well as heart failure and arrhythmia.
- Get help for TIAs. If you’ve suffered a Transient Ischemic Attack, or mini stroke, it’s a good indicator that a full-blown stroke is imminent. Don’t ignore the important preventative warning signs.
Tools That Can Help
The latest trend in wellness is wearable technology, or "wearables." Available in many different forms, such as watches and bracelets, these weave technology into everyday life, empowering users to take charge of their health. They can be used to set fitness goals, monitor heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen levels and capture activity measures such as steps and distance walked, elevation climbed, calories burned. Some can even monitor sleep cycles and evaluate sleep quality. Many connect to smart phones and allow data to be synced with popular apps like Health Mate, RunKeeper, MyFitnessPal and LoseIt. To see what’s out there, visit shopsentara.com for a variety of wearable products by Withings, Omron, and LifeSource.
Know the Warnings Signs of TIA
TIAs are warning signals that a stroke is likely. In fact, up to 40 percent of all people who have a TIA will also have a stroke – and half of them will suffer one within two days, according to the National Stroke Association. If you experience any of the telltale signs of a TIA, your body is telling you something.
The symptoms of a TIA are different than the signs of stroke. Someone having a TIA may experience one or more of the following:
- Numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side
- Sudden confusion and difficulty speaking
- Blurred vision in one or both eyes
- Trouble walking or loss of balance
Do you remember the warning signs of stroke? If you don’t know the FAST acronym – or forgot what it stands for – take two minutes now to review.