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Can You Prevent A Stroke? 80% Of Strokes Can Be Prevented!

Updated on January 24, 2011

Stroke Prevention Through Knowledge!

80% of strokes are preventable. Knowing the signs and symptoms of stroke as well as stroke risk factors can help prevent strokes. Knowledge alone is not enough. In addition to knowledge, change of lifestyle and the correct medications can work together to prevent the number 3 killer in the U.S. from claiming you as a stroke victim. If, as the National Stroke Association is correct when it states that 80% of strokes can be prevented, then finding out what steps to take to prevent a stroke become of utmost importance. Anyone can suffer a stroke. Age alone is not the only risk factor. If you believe because you are in your thirties or forties that you are safe, you are mistaken! Even children can become stroke victims, although children victims are relatively rare. 

The National Institute of Health says that strokes are the 3rd leading cause of death in this country. They continue by pointing out that 700,000 people in the U.S. suffer a stroke each year. Of those 700,000, many people survive, but with varying states of disability. 160,000 of stroke victims die each year.

What Is A Stroke? What Are The Risk Factors?

Keeping the definition of stroke simple is important. If everyone can understand what a stroke is, then that understanding can become part of finding the solution. The simplest definition is: A stroke is what occurs when there is a lack of blood flow to the brain. There are different types of strokes, but the technical explanation is not important for this discussion. Just know that when your brain is starved of blood, it will stop working. In other words, you can die!

The biggest risk for a stroke is high blood pressue or hypertension. If you have high blood pressure, it can be controlled. If you don't know what your blood pressure is, find out! Most large retail pharmacies have large blood pressure machines that are free to use. Sit down at the chair and slip your arm through the sleeve. Press the button and see what the numbers are. These machines are not completely accurate, but if you haven't seen a doctor in years, they can help to determine what range you are in. If you are an adult, the numbers you are looking for are 120 over 80 ( the generally accepted good blood pressure) . If either of those numbers are out of range, it does not mean that you will have a stroke tomorrow. It does indicate that you should think about seeing a doctor.

The stroke risk factors are the following:

  • High blood pressure- medication, even a change of diet can bring your blood pressure under control. The accepted standard is to have your blood pressure checked once a year, if it is normal. If it is higher than normal, it should be more regularly monitored.
  • Smoking- increases your chances of suffering a stroke.
  • High cholesterol, including high triglycerides ( put simply, the amount of fat in your blood)- cholesterol levels can be reduced by lowering the amounts of carbohydrates and fats that your body consumes. In other words, think twice about that double cheeseburger smothered in mayonnaise. Sure, you can have one once in a while, but not every day. In many cases, medication may be necessary to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  • Alcohol consumption- here moderation is the key. Not only can too much alcohol help to cause a stroke, it can do quite a bit of damage to your liver.
  • Diabetes- if you are a diabetic, you are at a higher risk of heart attacks, as well as strokes. Diet and medication can help to control diabetes. It has been noted that a simple loss of 5 - 10% of your body weight (if you are overweight) can completely eliminate Type 2 diabetes.
  • Exercise- lack of physical activity increases the risk for stroke. A sedentary lifestyle is hazardous to your health. Even a simple daily walk can reduce the risk.
  • Circulation- poor circulation is a risk factor. In order to determne whether you have poor circulation, an evaluation by a doctor is imperative. Poor circulation also increases your risk of deep vein thrombosis.
  • Atrial fibrillation- simply, the heart has an irregular heartbeat. This must be evaluated by a physician.
  • High salt diet- too much salt can be a risk factor. It can also cause water retention and higher blood pressure. In addition to cutting salt, increase your consumption of fruits, vegetables and good fats (that doesn't mean the fats that simply taste good).
  • Drug abuse- abuse of drugs becomes a risk factor. How does a healthy teenager become a stroke victim? Cocaine, methamphetamines, diet pills can all contribute to stroke. This abuse can also cause sudden cardiac arrest.

The risk factors are many, but if you actually look at them, most of them, if not all of them, can be controlled by medication or eliminated by a change in lifestyle.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of A Stroke?

Sometimes, a stroke just happens. That is the grim reality. Getting treatment as quickly as possible decreases the risk of death or severe brain damage. The National Institue for Health states that the most common cause of adult disability in this country is stroke related. Over 500,000 Americans each year survive strokes. The damage from a stroke may not kill you, but can leave you physically or mentally compromised. Recovery after a stroke can range anywhere from complete recovery to severe disability. Getting treatment fast is of utmost importance! The less time that your brain is deprived of adequate blood flow is what everyone should aim for.

The signs and symptoms of a stroke are:

  • Headache- if you are not a chronic headache sufferer, yet you have an unrelenting headache, you may be having a stroke. If you do suffer from chronic headaches, it may be more difficult to relate to a stroke.
  • Numbness or weakness - especially if it is affecting one side of your body.
  • Dizziness-  dizziness that lasts any length of time.
  • Blurring of vision- any vision disturbance can signify a stroke. Double vision, blurred vision, etc.
  • Lack of coordination- the inability to walk normally or even something as small as being unable to grab a coffee cup without spilling it.
  • Drooping of one side of the face- if you try to smile and only one side of your mouth engages.
  • Nausea or vomiting- While this symptom can also indicate the flu, it can also be a sign of a heart attack or a stroke.
  • Confusion or slurred speech

These are the most common signs and symptoms of a stroke. If you experience any one or more of these symptoms, dial 911. Fast treatment can determine if you live, die or become disabled.

Minimize The Damage! Act Quickly! Do Not Hesitate!

More than anything else, getting treatment as quickly as possible is of utmost importance. If you have any of the stroke risk factors mentioned above and begin to experience any of the listed signs and symptoms, prompt evaluation is imperative. The National Stroke Association puts it quite simply; Act F.A.S.T ! To illustrate:

  • (F)ACE: Drooping of the face on one side.
  • (A)RMS : Raise both arms in front of you. If one arm drifts downward...
  • (S)PEECH : Slurred speech, difficulty with words, inability to repeat a sentence, confusion
  • (T)IME : If you have any of the above symptoms, get help quickly. Dial 911!

The Association points out that if you waste time, brain cells are dying!

Plain, Simple Terms Are Best!

This is not meant to be a technical or medical study of strokes. It has been designed with the use of plain, simple language so there is no confusion. The easier the concepts are, the more likely they are to be absorbed and remembered.

After reading the information provided, it is hoped that a better understanding of strokes is the end result. It is offered in an attempt to save your life or the life of someone you care about. 


Submit a Comment

  • Jillian Barclay profile image

    Jillian Barclay 7 years ago from California, USA

    Your opinion means alot to me, Doc! Thank you-again you have given me some info that I was unaware of!

  • cathylynn99 profile image

    cathylynn99 7 years ago from northeastern US

    just dropped by to vote useful and up and let you know that niacin, too, may help prevent alzheimers.