Reduce Your Risk for Stroke

Reduce Your Risk for Stroke

As you read this from the American Stroke Association, take note that most Ugandans, at home and abroad, do not visit a doctor on a regular basis. They do not know their family medical history clearly. Most of them have no idea that they even have a higher than normal blood pressure for they do not get tested. At the same time they drink a lot, love plenty of salt in their muchomos and donít do too much physically after secondary school.

Also know the effects of secondhand smoking. It may not be enough for you to quit. The people around you should also quit.

By UGPulse
more from author >>
First published: August 18, 2005

Whatís a stroke?

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bursts or gets clogged. The affected part of the brain doesnít get the blood it needs and, in minutes, begins to die.

If you have a stroke, you could die, suffer paralysis or have trouble talking or understanding speech. Your vision could be affected. You could also lose emotional control or become depressed. Each stroke has different effects.

What can I do?

Stroke is a leading cause of serious disability and death. Itís a devastating disease. Thatís why it is so important to minimize your risk.

Several things increase your risk of stroke: getting older, being of African descent, having a prior stroke or heart attack, or a family history of stroke. You canít do anything about these risk factors.

There are other risk factors you can treat, modify or control with your doctorís help: high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus*, carotid* or other artery disease, atrial fibrillation*, other heart disease, mini-strokes (called TIAs or transient ischemic attacks), a high blood cholesterol. Tobacco use is another risk factor you can control.

Smoking cigarettes significantly increases your risk of stroke. If you already have other risk factors, quitting smoking now is even more important.

Why is smoking bad?

Smoking reduces oxygen in the blood, thickens the blood and makes clots likely to form. It also increases the buildup of plaque in arteries and temporarily increases blood pressure. These effects increase your risk of stroke and heart attack.

If you smoke and have a high blood pressure, your risk of stroke can increase as much as 20 times. Smoking cigarettes while using some kinds of birth control pills greatly increases stroke risk.

What are the stroke warning signs?

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause If you have or someone you know has ANY of the warning signs of a stroke, donít wait. Get Help. Every second counts!

    Advice you can live with Quitting smoking isnít easy. Itís tough. But itís easier than trying to recover from stroke.

    Itís simple. The more you smoke, the higher your risk. So to reduce your risk of stroke, QUIT SMOKING NOW. No matter how much or how long youíve smoked, when you stop, your risk of stroke immediately starts to drop.

    What else can I do to reduce my risk of stroke?

  • Recognize and treat high blood pressure and diabetes. If you have either of these diseases, never stop taking your medication without talking to your doctor first. And take it exactly as prescribed.
  • Be physically active. Physical activity helps reduce the risk of heart disease, which is a risk factor for stroke. Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity on most days.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Enjoy foods that are low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium (salt). Control or reduce your weight to avoid obesity.
  • Donít drink too much alcohol. An average of more than one drink a day for women or two drinks a day for men raises blood pressure and can lead to stroke.
  • Avoid illegal drugs. Intravenous drug abuse and cocaine use carry a high risk of stroke. They can be fatal even in first-time users.
  • Have regular medical checkups. Visiting your doctor on a regular basis is the best way to know if you are at risk for stroke.

    Reduce your risk of disability or death from stroke-

    *What is diabetes mellitus?
    Diabetes is a disease in which the body doesn't produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas, an organ near the stomach. Insulin is needed to turn sugar and other food into energy. When you have diabetes, your body either doesnít make enough insulin or canít use its own insulin as well as it should, or both. This causes sugars to build up too high in your blood.

    Diabetes mellitus is defined as a fasting blood glucose of 126 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or more.

    *What is carotid artery stenosis or carotid artery disease?
    Carotid artery stenosis is the narrowing of the carotid arteries. These are the main arteries in the neck that supply blood to the brain. Carotid artery stenosis, also called carotid artery disease, is a major risk factor for ischemic stroke. (This is the most common form of stroke and is usually caused by a blood clot plugging an artery.)

    The narrowing is usually caused by plaque in a blood vessel. Plaque forms when cholesterol, fat and other substances build up in the inner lining of an artery. This process is called atherosclerosis.

    *What Is Atrial Fibrillation?
    Normally, your heart contracts and relaxes to a regular beat. With atrial fibrillation, part of the heart doesnít beat the way it should.

  • By UGPulse
    more from author >>
    First published: August 18, 2005
    The material in this article has been gathered word for word from a handbook distributed by the American Stroke Association. UGPulse does not give medical advice. You should seek that from your doctor.