Thursday, July 12, 2012

5 Tips for Stroke Prevention

Today we feature a guest post by Philip J. Reed titled "5 Tips for Stroke Prevention". We extend Philip a very warm welcome and we hope you find his post motivating, informative and actionable. - Gary

--Philip J Reed, on behalf of The George Washington University Hospital Cardiovascular Center 

When a stroke occurs, brain cells can begin dying within seconds. Even prompt symptom recognition and quick access to stroke services may not be enough to prevent long-term damage.The best way to maintain full function is to reduce your risk factors, and we will discuss five ways to do that below.

1. Know your numbers. Your blood pressure and cholesterol can both be major risk factors. High blood pressure, which often has few or no symptoms, is one of the leading causes of stroke. It creates stress in blood vessel walls, and left untreated, can lead to blood vessel deterioration, blood clots, brain hemorrhage and stroke. High cholesterol can be just as damaging as it builds up on the walls of the arteries, blocking and damaging them. Positive lifestyle changes, such as exercise and weight loss, may be able to help you gain control over your blood pressure and cholesterol. Your doctor can help you explore other avenues for reducing your numbers if lifestyle changes are ineffective or do not reduce your numbers enough.

2. Make healthy choices. Excessive alcohol consumption and tobacco use both pose stroke risks and can increase your blood pressure. Smoking, which doubles your stroke risk, forces your heart to work harder to pump blood throughout your body and can promote plaque build-up in your arteries. Quitting smoking and drinking alcohol in moderation may be able to help reduce your stroke risk.

3. Maintain a healthy body weight. Overweight and obesity create extra work for your circulatory system and are linked to high blood pressure, high cholesterol and Type 2 diabetes. Losing weight can be difficult, but making healthier food choices that include lean protein, fresh vegetables and fruits, and whole grains can make you feel better physically and mentally and help you lose weight. If you are unsure about how or where you should start, talk to your health care professional or a nutritionist to learn more.

4. Control your diabetes. If you have diabetes, your stroke risk may be four times higher than it is for those who do not have diabetes. Many people with diabetes also tend to have co-morbid health conditions, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, further increasing their risk. If you have diabetes, managing your blood glucose levels, staying active, eating a healthy diet and seeing your health care professional regularly can all help reduce your risk of stroke. Here are some additional great tips for managing diabetes.

5. Stay active. A sedentary lifestyle can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes, weight gain and other health conditions associated with stroke. Health care professionals recommend exercising at least 30 minutes a day five days a week. Even beginners can enjoy a brisk walk or low impact water aerobics class. Talk to your doctor to ensure you are taking any necessary precautions before starting an exercise regimen.

The National Stroke Association estimates that as many as four out of five strokes can be prevented. Controlling risk factors where you can may help reduce your odds of needing stroke services and help you live a healthier life overall.

Philip J Reed is a health and fitness enthusiast who understands the value of knowledge and prevention.  If you have any questions or would like additional information, please leave a comment here, or contact us through the link in the byline.

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