Two strokes caused my father to be disabled for 12 years and then he finally died from the complications of these strokes. My maternal grandfather was also disabled from a stroke, and my father’s brother died from a stroke. Stroke is the number three killer in the U.S. and is the major causes of disabilities.
Strokes are caused by a lack of, or insufficient flow of blood to the brain. This causes brain tissue to die and can cause confusion, paralysis, and death. There are two main reasons this happens. Blood vessels are blocked by a clot, or a blood vessel balloons or ruptures diverting blood away from the brain. Many things may cause these problems like high blood pressure and cholesterol, and head trauma. Age is a big factor and the risk of stroke doubles every decade over the age of 55. The good news is that 80% of all strokes can be prevented.
Stroke Prevention Tips (Most Important First):
- STOP SMOKING!
All of the stroke victims in my family smoked. Smoking doubles the risk of stroke. It causes hardening of the arteries, increases bad cholesterol, increases blood pressure, causes irregular heart beat, and causes blood clots.
- Blood Pressure Control
High blood pressure can damage blood vessels in the brain causing leaking or an aneurysm which disrupts b the blood flow causing strokes. High blood pressure has many causes, but in most cases it is treatable. Have it checked regularly and visit your family doctor.
A sedentary lifestyle is a major risk factor for stroke. Exercise reduces blood pressure, improves blood circulation and blood flow the the brain, reduces weight and the bad cholesterol. Recommendations vary as to how much you should exercise. My personal guideline is to exercise every other day at least until I sweat
- Don’t Abuse Alcohol
More than two drinks a day my increase stroke risk by 50% according to studies. You don’t have to be a tea toddler because some alcohol is good for you.
- Loose Weight
Being overweight contributes to many risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and poor blood circulation. Even loosing 10 pounds can help reduce stroke risk.
- Healthy Diet
A diet low in saturated and trans fats and rich in antioxidants promotes healthy cholesterol levels and fights arteriosclerosis and blood clots. I have published an article on strokes and resveratrol.
- Avoid Illicit Drugs
Many illicit drugs like cocaine and methamphetamines, cause strokes.
In conclusion I did not list diabetes because the stroke risk factor of diabetics are controlled by diet, exercise and weight control as listed above. It is also difficult to prevent head trauma as in a car, motorcycle or bicycle accident and in contact sports. Drive carefully and wear protective head gear.
For further reading:
Mayo Clinic on Stroke Prevention
Stroke Prevention – How Can I Prevent Stroke? – National Stroke Association
Stroke Statistics | Internet Stroke Center