A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of your brain is interrupted or severely reduced, depriving the brain of oxygen and food and causing brain cells to die. Early action can minimize brain damage and complications.
The good news is 80% of all strokes can be prevented. Here are ways to reduce your risk of having a stroke:
- If you smoke, quit – smoking doubles your risk of stroke.
- Manage your blood pressure – high blood pressures causes damage to your blood vessels and increases your risk of stroke
- Find out if you have AFib (Atrial Fibrillation) – AFib is an irregular heartbeat the contributes to clumping or clotting in the upper chamber of your heart. When these clots move, then can block blood flow to the brain, causing a stroke. Your doctor can prescribe medications that can reduce clotting.
- Lower your cholesterol. If it’s high, you can reduce the bad cholesterol by eating a healthy diet and by exercising on a regular basis.
- If you’re diabetic, work with your doctor to manage the disease through medication if diet and exercise are not enough.
- Even if you don’t have high cholesterol or diabetes, eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise will reduce your risk of stroke.
- Drink in moderation – those who drink more than two alcoholic beverages in one day greatly increase their risk of stroke
It’s also important to know the signs of a stroke. You don’t have to fit the profile of an overweight, diabetic, smoker to have a stroke. They can strike anyone at anytime no matter how much you weigh or how old you are. Watch for these F.A.S.T. signs:
Face: Does the person’s face droop on one side? Can they smile? Is it even?
Arms: Is one arm weak or numb? Can they raise both arms?
Speech: Is their speech slurred? Do you have a hard time understanding what they say?
Time: If a person is showing any of these signs, call 911 and get the person to the hospital immediately.
Every second counts with a stroke. It’s important to get medical attention within three hours after the first symptoms appear. The longer you wait for treatment, the greater the potential for brain damage. Be sure to stay with the person who is having a stroke and watch their symptoms so you can communicate with medical professionals when help does arrive.