According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year strokes account for 1 out of every 20 deaths. This is important for older adults to note, as this means that it’s possible to have multiple strokes if they aren’t taking the proper preventative measures. It’s important that individuals, who are particularly vulnerable to heart conditions, know how to lower their chances of having a stroke and take the necessary precautions.
According to the American Stroke Association, there are many risk factors of a stroke including factors that cannot be controlled (such as (age, heredity (family history), race, sex and prior stroke, TIA and heart attack) and those that can be controlled including:
High blood pressure — High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke and the most important controllable risk factor for stroke. Many people believe the effective treatment of high blood pressure is a key reason for the accelerated decline in the death rates for stroke.
Cigarette smoking — In recent years, studies have shown cigarette smoking to be an important risk factor for stroke. The nicotine and carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke damage the cardiovascular system in many ways. The use of oral contraceptives combined with cigarette smoking greatly increases stroke risk.
Diabetes mellitus — Diabetes is an independent risk factor for stroke. Many people with diabetes also have high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and are overweight. This increases their risk even more. While diabetes is treatable, the presence of the disease still increases your risk of stroke.
Carotid or other artery disease — The carotid arteries in your neck supply blood to your brain. A carotid artery narrowed by fatty deposits from atherosclerosis (plaque buildups in artery walls) may become blocked by a blood clot. Carotid artery disease is also called carotid artery stenosis. Peripheral artery disease is the narrowing of blood vessels carrying blood to leg and arm muscles. It’s caused by fatty buildups of plaque in artery walls. People with peripheral artery disease have a higher risk of carotid artery disease, which raises their risk of stroke.
Atrial fibrillation — This heart rhythm disorder raises the risk for stroke. The heart’s upper chambers quiver instead of beating effectively, which can let the blood pool and clot. If a clot breaks off, enters the bloodstream and lodges in an artery leading to the brain, a stroke results.
Other heart disease — People with coronary heart disease or heart failure have a higher risk of stroke than those with hearts that work normally. Dilated cardiomyopathy (an enlarged heart), heart valve disease and some types of congenital heart defects also raise the risk of stroke.
Sickle cell disease (also called sickle cell anemia) — This is a genetic disorder that mainly affects African-American and Hispanic children. “Sickled” red blood cells are less able to carry oxygen to the body’s tissues and organs. These cells also tend to stick to blood vessel walls, which can block arteries to the brain and cause a stroke.
High blood cholesterol — People with high blood cholesterol have an increased risk for stroke. Also, it appears that low HDL (“good”) cholesterol is a risk factor for stroke in men, but more data are needed to verify its effect in women.
Poor diet — Diets high in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol can raise blood cholesterol levels. Diets high in sodium (salt) can contribute to increased blood pressure. Diets with excess calories can contribute to obesity. Also, a diet containing five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day may reduce the risk of stroke.
Physical inactivity and obesity — Being inactive, obese or both can increase your risk of high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. So go on a brisk walk, take the stairs, and do whatever you can to make your life more active. Try to get a total of at least 30 minutes of activity on most or all days.
It’s valuable to understand that you can control the risk factors to prevent from having a stroke. Simple examples of ways to lower your risk include:
EAT HEALTHY FOODS / BALANCED DIET
According to Everyday Health, a balanced diet to lower risk of stroke is to remove sodium for your diet, pick healthier protein sources, eat more fruits and vegetables, power up your potassium intake, and increase the amount of fiber in your food choices. What your body intakes may increase your chances of stroke. By eating healthy foods and maintaining a healthy diet can lower your risks.
In addition to a healthy diet, you must exercise regularly to keep your body in tip top shape. It is recommended that you add at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise into your schedule weekly in order to keep your body in shape.
NO DRINKING / SMOKING
As we all know, drinking and smoking can age the body as well as deteriorate our insides leading to many health issues. By drinking and smoking, you are increasing your risk of stroke among many other issues. It is important to understand that removing drinking and smoking from your life will lead to a healthier outcome.
HAVE RISK FACTORS CHECKED AT APPOINTMENTS
Monthly checkups with your doctor/physician are recommended to monitor risk factors such as weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, heart conditions and more. Your doctor/physician will be able to pinpoint high risks of having stroke and recommend medications and treatment in lower your chance.
CUT BACK ON STROKE-INDUCING HABITS
Like that of removing smoking and drinking from your lifestyle it is important to remove other common risk such as too much sodium which could lead to high blood pressure and cholesterol.
There are many ways to prevent a stroke and lower your risk. Don’t let a stroke hinder you from enjoying life. Take the necessary precautions and live your life to the fullest without stroke! IT IS POSSIBLE!