A stroke happens when there is a loss of blood flow to the brain that causes damage to the tissues in the brain. The most common reason that blood flow to the brain is disrupted is blockage in the arteries and blood vessels leading to the brain. Another common reason is hemorrhaging. When one, or a cluster, of blood vessels in the brain burst open and starts leaking, the flow to other tissues fed by the vessel that burst is greatly reduced and could damage or kill the tissue, causing a stroke .
Atrial fibrillation (afib) is one of the leading causes of a stroke that you do not hear about too often. While there is no foolproof method, medical professionals such as the CDC, Stroke.org and WebMD offer these tips for preventing a stroke. The two most common types of stroke are Ischemic Stroke and Hemorrhagic Stroke. Each of these are broken down into sub-categories of technical terms relating to the different causes. Basically, an Ischemic Stroke is blockage and a Hemorrhagic Stroke is leakage-both can devastate the tissue in the brain and cause you to lose speech, movement, comprehension and even kill you. There is no fool-proof method of preventing a stroke but here are some tips to help reduce your risks.
Tip one for preventing a stoke is all about high blood pressure. Anything you can do to lower your blood pressure will greatly reduce your risk for a stroke. The CDC focuses on dietary controls of high blood pressure, but one of the leading causes of high blood pressure and even heart attack is stress. If you want to prevent a stroke, you must get rid of the stress factors, which is usually the people around you who drive you nuts. It is much easier said than done, but if someone (or something) constantly has you going, they need to get gone, if you want to lower your risks and prevent a stroke.
The second tip for preventing a stroke is to identify Atrial Fibrillation. Ever have a little fluttering feeling in your chest that may or may not come with momentary light-headedness? This could be Atrial Fibrillation, which of itself is virtually harmless and fairly common. The problem is that AFib can cause blood clots, which get stuck in the vessels carrying blood to the brain and cause a TIA or a stroke. If you have AFib, your doctor may place you on the 81 mg aspirin regimen. Aspirin is a blood thinner, which helps to reduce this clotting and could be fundamental in helping you to prevent a stroke. Ask your doctor before doing this because there could be other things going on.
If your doctor puts you on the aspirin regimen, you simply chew a baby aspirin (I do not suggest the orange flavored ones-chew the cherry ones(!)) once a day and that thins your blood which helps to prevent clotting and reduces your risk for having a stroke. A word of caution about aspirin-more is not necessarily better because long-term use of aspirin can cause severe stomach ulcers. When your doctor says 81 mg per day, do not get creative and pop a few adult aspirins thinking that you are really going to thin your blood out and prevent a stroke because what you will end up doing is eating a hole in you stomach lining which may make a stroke seem like the better way to go!
Manage Circulation Problems
The third tip for preventing a stroke is to manage any circulation problems you might have. Poor circulation can lead to loss of vital oxygen and nutrients to the brain which can turn into a stroke. If you have circulation problems, you may already have an obstruction in your blood vessels. Catching it early can reduce your risks and possibly aid in preventing a stroke.
Control Your Diabetes
The fourth tip for preventing a stroke is to control your diabetes. Diabetes occurs when the body’s cells cannot absorb the sugar in your diet which is detected by having a higher than average amount of sugar in your blood. Insulin, which is produced in the pancreas, helps the cells to absorb the sugars in your blood. People with diabetes have a higher risk factor of having a heart attack or a stroke.
The fifth tip for preventing a stroke is to get at least the recommended amount of daily exercise. According to the CDC, the average adult should get a minimum of 2 ½ hours of moderate exercise per week. Children should get at least 1 hour per day of moderate exercise. Tips for moderate exercise include brisk walking and bicycling.
Reduce Alcohol Consumption
The sixth tip for reducing your risks and preventing a stroke is to drink a minimal amount of alcohol. Men should have no more than two drinks per day and women should have only one drink per day. Alcohol raises your blood pressure and high blood pressure can lead to a stroke. One drink is equal to one glass of wine, one 12 ounce beer or one shot of liquor. This can be kind of confusing because it is also recommended that you have a glass of wine with dinner which is supposed to help with your cholesterol-but my friend Judy, who is a dietician says that grape juice without the alcohol can accomplish the same thing.
The seventh tip for reducing your risks and preventing a stroke is to not smoke. It is recommended that if you do smoke, you should stop and if you do not smoke, do not start. Aside from the toxins and carcinogens in cigarette smoke, smoking raises your blood pressure and high blood pressure leads to a stroke. There have been no known studies on the e-cigarettes (which consist only of water, nicotine and flavoring) yet to determine if they are safer regarding blood pressure than a tobacco cigarette but clearly, vaping seems to be much better than smoking when it comes to other health risk factors such as cancer and/or emphysema.
Manage Your Weight
The Eighth tip for reducing your risks and preventing a stroke is to manage your weight. Have your doctor check your BMI (Body Mass Index) to find your optimal weight and keep it within those limits. Being overweight can contribute to high blood pressure which can lead to a stroke. Being over weight can also obstruct the flow of blood to the brain or cause build-ups in your blood vessels which directly cause a stroke.
Eat Lots of Fruits and Veggies
The ninth tip for reducing your risks and preventing a stroke is to eat lots of fruits and veggies. Choose the fruits and vegetables that are low in trans fats and saturated fats. Fatty deposits can build up in your blood vessels leading to high blood pressure which can lead to a stroke. They can also build up in your blood vessels and directly obstruct the blood flow to your brain causing a stroke. Fruits and vegetables are generally high in fiber, a good source of vitamins and if you are satisfying yourself with them then you are not starving and craving for other foods that are high in trans fats and saturated fats. Besides, they taste really good.
Limit Your Salt Intake
The final tip for reducing your risks and preventing a stroke is to limit your salt intake. This can be tricky because a not-so-well publicized fact is that the human body (and most animals really) actually require a significant amount of salt in their daily diets to maintain other functions. Ask your doctor what your minimum amount of salt should be for your body type, size and lifestyle. On the downside, the salt that your body requires to function efficiently can also cause high blood pressure which then leads to a stroke.
Watch your cholesterol (especially your LDLs) and take care of your teeth as there are some studies that suggest that plaque build-up and other dental problems can actually contribute to and cause a stroke-other studies say maybe not. Why take the chance when all you have to do is brush twice a day for two minutes, floss after each meal and see your dentist on a regular schedule? Besides- a toothache hurts like the dickens, there are no teeth like your natural teeth so take care of them and keep them forever, and you may just accidentally reduce your risks and prevent a stroke in the process.
For more information on reducing your risks and preventing a stroke, check out these websites: