Know the Symptoms for Stroke
If you experience these symptoms, BE F-A-S-T! You can save a life if you know the following signs and symptoms of stroke:
BALANCE – Sudden loss of balance or dizziness
EYES – Sudden blurred vision or loss of vision
FACE – Sudden facial droop or uneven smile
ARM – Sudden arm weakness or numbness
SPEECH – Sudden slurred speech; sudden difficulty speaking or understanding
TIME – Call 911 and get to the hospital immediately
With a stroke, time lost is brain lost. Spread awareness about stroke symptoms so everyone recognizes them quickly. Learn more about stroke warning signs and symptoms from the National Stroke Association™.
Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death and a leading cause of long-term disability in America, according to the American Stroke Association®. The chances of having a stroke increase if a person has certain risk factors such as high cholesterol or blood pressure; however, up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented. You can calculate your individual risk by completing the stroke risk scorecard.
To reduce your risk for stroke:
Know your blood pressure
If it’s high, work with your doctor to lower it.
One in three Americans has high blood pressure, but one out every five doesn’t know they have it.
Known ominously as “the silent killer,” high blood pressure has no symptoms. Diet and exercise are essential to keeping your blood pressure low. Other important factors include staying away from cigarettes, limiting salt and alcohol, and maintaining a healthy weight.
Find out from your doctor if you have atrial fibrillation.
Approximately 2.7 million Americans have an irregular heartbeat known as atrial fibrillation (also referred to as AFib) – a serious heart rhythm disorder that causes the heart’s two upper chambers to contract very fast and irregularly.
The chaotic rhythm that occurs with atrial fibrillation inhibits efficient blood flow into the ventricles of the heart. As a result, the heart’s upper and lower chambers don’t work together as they should. If left untreated, chronic AFib can lead to serious complications, such as stroke, heart failure and death.
For more information about atrial fibrillation, including free educational resources, visit the American Heart Association®.
If you smoke, stop
Smoking affects your metabolism and the chemistry of your blood vessels in several ways, all of which put you at increased risk for stroke. According to the CDC, smoking approximately doubles a person’s risk for stroke. Even the occasional cigarette or exposure to secondhand smoke increases your risk.But don’t think it’s too late to undo years of damage. When you quit smoking, your stroke risk drops significantly within just a year.
If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation
The vast majority of healthcare professionals agree that drinking more than one to two drinks per day can increase stroke risk and lead to other medical problems. Although, some believe that one alcoholic drink a day may lower a person’s risk. Since conflicting research exists about alcohol use and its effect against stroke, it is best to talk to your doctor before consuming alcoholic drinks regularly.
Find out if you have high cholesterol
If so, work with your doctor to control it.
Cholesterol, a waxy substance in the bloodstream and in the cells of our body, isn’t all bad. In fact, “good” cholesterol (HDL) plays an important role in keeping you healthy by clearing “bad” cholesterol (LDL) from your arteries. How can you increase the good and decrease the bad? Exercising regularly and limiting saturated fat and cholesterol is a good start.
Avoid too many animal products such as red meats and full-fat dairy. Limiting trans fats and substituting them with healthier fats such as certain vegetable oils can also help.
While simple diet and exercise changes are enough for many people, others may find benefit from a prescription for cholesterol-lowering medication.
If you are diabetic, follow your doctor’s recommendations carefully to control it
Adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have a stroke than those without diabetes, according to the American Heart Association.
If you have diabetes, you can lower your risk by keeping your blood glucose (sugar), blood pressure and cholesterol under control by planning your meals, exercising and proper medication. The closer you are to your target levels in these areas, the better your chances of preventing a stroke.
Hoag offers a diabetes program to help individuals living with diabetes. To learn more, call 949-764-8065.
Include exercise in the activities you enjoy in your daily routine
Just 2 ½ hours of mild to moderate exercise each week can reduce your risk of fatal disease by helping you to control your weight, your blood pressure and your cholesterol, and by staving off diabetes.
Exercise also helps you look and feel great – not a bad side effect.
This doesn’t mean you have to become a marathon runner overnight. Physical activities such as gardening, taking the stairs instead of the elevator and walking the dog all count toward healthier living.
Eat a lower sodium, lower fat diet
Consumption of foods high in salt, fat and cholesterol increase your risk for stroke.
Extra sodium in your diet-from table salt and many processed and canned foods-is linked to hypertension. So try to eat fresh foods when possible.
High intakes of fat, especially saturated fat, and cholesterol may contribute to atherosclerosis, which is also associated with stroke. You can limit these by cutting down on the use of oil when cooking, trimming the fat from meats and poultry, using low- or non-fat dairy products and baking or broiling foods instead of frying.
Ask your doctor how you can reduce your risk of stroke
Hoag Stroke Program ranks among the top five percent in the nation and has been awarded the American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines Stroke Gold Plus Performance Achievement for Hoag’s continued high standard of stroke care. To learn more about the program, call 949-764-6066.