Broken Arrow Family Drug blog
Stroke Prevention Month: Everything you need to know to keep your brain healthy!
We here at Broken Arrow Family Drug take our patients’ health very seriously. That is why in today’s post we want to talk about Strokes. May is National Stroke Awareness month, and rightfully so as strokes now rank as the fourth leading killer in the United States, killing over 800,000 people a year! Perhaps you feel that you’re too young to be worrying about strokes yet, or perhaps you think you’re healthy enough to skip this post, but we urge you to take a moment and read on. Strokes can happen at any age, and you may be healthy but still carry have some risk factors that lead to strokes.
WHAT EXACTLY IS A STROKE?
In short, a stroke is an attack on the brain in which the blood circulation to the brain ceases. Without the right blood flow, brain cells are starved of Oxygen and the cells then die, causing irreparable damage.
There are two main types of strokes to the brain. The first kind is a blockage of a blood vessel, or clot, in the brain or neck, called an ischemic stroke. Ischemic are the most frequent, and make up about 80% of all strokes. Bleeding into the brain or the spaces surrounding the brain causes the second type of stroke, called hemorrhagic stroke, which is less common but also highly dangerous.
WARNING SIGNS OF A STROKE
Strokes often come with warning signs that your brain is not receiving enough oxygen. If you experience any of these, call 911 immediately. It would also greatly benefit your elderly relatives to have a “refresher” in what stroke symptoms are. The following are common indicators of a stroke and require immediate medical attention:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion, or trouble talking or understanding speech
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination
HOW TO PREVENT A STROKE
In order to prevent a stroke from ever occurring, you’ll want to know the following risk factors and take the appropriate actions.
- High blood pressure is a major stroke risk factor if left untreated. Have blood pressure checked yearly by a doctor or at an automatic blood pressure reader in a grocery store pharmacy.
- Cholesterol is a huge risk factor for strokes. Cholesterol, a fatty substance in blood that is made by the body, clogs arteries and can cause a stroke. If your total cholesterol level is more than 200 you are at risk, and you’ll want to revisit your doctor to develop an action plan to lower your numbers.
- Smoking doubles the risk of stroke. It damages blood vessel walls, speeds up artery clogging, raises blood pressure and makes the heart work harder. Quitting smoking will greatly reduce your risk of stroke.
- Excess weight is a contributor to stroke risk. Maintaining an active lifestyle, even if its just walking or light jogging, can greatly reduce your risk. Diet also plays a key role, both in keeping cholesterol low and also in keeping weight off, so as not to cause strain to the circulatory system.
- Alcohol use has been linked to stroke in many studies. Most doctors recommend not drinking or drinking only in moderation – no more than two drinks each day. If you feel you may have trouble with drinking, contact a local chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous for help.
You may not be at risk, but it’s likely that you know someone who is, and we hope you’ll share this post with your loved ones.