Learn How to Prevent a Stroke
May is Stroke Awareness Month. A stroke occurs when blood stops flowing to the brain and the outcome can range from minor disability to death. Fortunately, up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented. The doctors at Peripheral Vascular Associates (PVA) are committed to stroke prevention. Read on to learn about risk factors, lifestyle changes to make, treatments to prevent stroke and some of the warning signs that a stroke may be occurring.
Did you know that?
- Every year, nearly 800,000 Americans have a stroke
- On average in the U.S., one person dies from a stroke every four minutes
- Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. and the leading cause of adult disability.
Risk Factors for Stroke:
It is important to identify conditions that increase your risk of stroke. The risk is cumulative over time so it is important to manage risk factors beginning at a young age. However, it is never too late to start.
- Circulation Problems – Strokes can be caused by complications with any component of your circulation—your heart, arteries, veins, and blood.
- High Blood Pressure – High blood pressure is the number-one cause of stroke and the most important risk factor to control.
- Heart Disease – Conditions like atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, valve defects, Afib, and enlargement of heart chambers can cause blood clots that can block vessels in or leading to the brain.
- High Cholesterol – Cholesterol is a fatty substance in blood. It’s made by the body, and it’s also found in food. If there’s too much cholesterol in your blood, it can clog arteries and cause a stroke.
- Diabetes – You are two to four times more likely to have a stroke if you have diabetes.
You can also decrease your risk of having a stroke by making lifestyle changes such as:
- Stop smoking. Smoking accelerates clot formation, thickens blood, and increases the amount of plaque buildup in the arteries.
- Watch what you eat. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, along with foods that are high in fiber. Limiting salt can help lower your blood pressure. Eating less cholesterol and fat, especially saturated fat and trans fats, may reduce the plaque in arteries.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Carrying extra weight can make you more apt to develop high blood pressure, heart problems, and diabetes—which can all increase the risk for stroke.
- Be active. Physical activity can help you lose weight and reduce stress— which can lower blood pressure. Being active can also help lower cholesterol, control diabetes, and improve overall health.
- Drink less. Drinking too much alcohol can increase blood pressure and the risk of
In addition to addressing risk factors and making lifestyle changes, it is sometimes necessary to take certain medicines like aspirin and cholesterol lowering agents. Vascular surgeons sometimes have to do a surgery to clean out the carotid arteries in the neck which reduces the amount of plaque that could travel to the brain and cause a stroke.
Warning Signs for Stroke:
The American Stroke Association has a pneumonic to help remember the warning signs for stroke. “F.A.S.T” stands for face drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulty and time to call 911. If someone is having a possible stroke, getting them to an emergency room immediately is the only way to improve their chance of making a full recovery.
For more information on stroke prevention please call Peripheral Vascular Associates (PVA) at 210-237-4444.Source: Dr. Peck, PVA (May is Stroke Awareness Month Ranger Health Article)