Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Signs Of A Stroke & The Best Ways To Prevent It

If you think a stroke only targets seniors, think again. I knew a woman, in her early forties, who had a massive stroke, which took her years to recover from. It can occur at any age, but increases substantially after the age of 55, and more than doubles after the age of 65. It is the 3rd leading cause of death and a major source of disability.

As with most things concerning our health... an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. A healthy lifestyle is by far the best way to ensure you maintain good health, and it applies to stroke prevention, as well. They say 80% of all strokes are preventable.

High Blood pressure or hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol are major contributing factors in stroke potential, so it would behoove you to make sure you keep those things under control by:

1. EXERCISING: Get out there and get your heart pumping. It not only reduces high blood pressure it also helps keep your cholesterol in check and can decrease your risk of diabetes.
Exercise helps make the heart stronger. And the stronger the heart, the less effort it takes to pump blood around the body—so the lower the blood pressure.


2. CONTROLLING YOUR WEIGHT: The heavier you are the greater the risk. Exercising will, obviously, help with this issue.

3. EAT HEALTHILY: Add more fruits, veggies and whole grains to your diet, and lower the saturated fat content.

4. STOP SMOKING: Besides the obvious reasons to stop, smoking increases the risk of hypertension.
Stroke risk decreases significantly two years after quitting and is at the level of nonsmokers by five years, research shows. In fact, recent data from the Women’s Health Study showed that women who smoke a pack a day are at increased risk of hypertension. What’s more, the nicotine and carbon monoxide damage the cardiovascular system, leading to a higher risk of stroke.


5. LIMIT YOUR ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION: The more you drink the greater the risk of stroke. Limit your daily intake to one a day. Remember, moderation is best.
Experts aren’t clear on why alcohol raises blood pressure and increases stroke risk, but research from the University of Cincinnati has shown that having more than two drinks a day is associated with subarachnoid hemorrhage, a particularly deadly type of stroke caused by the rupture of a blood vessel on the surface of the brain; it tends to strike premenopausal women.


6. CHECK YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE: There are often no symptoms for high blood pressure, so have your doctor check it periodically. If you do, increasing exercise and lowering your intake of salt/sodium might be necessary.

7. GET TESTED FOR CHOLESTEROL AND DIABETES.

8. DEAL WITH STRESS IN A HEALTHY WAY: Meditate, try Yoga or Tai Chi, write in a journal, anything that can help lower your stress levels.


SIGNS OF A STROKE

It is said that if a stroke victim is diagnosed and treated within the first 3 hours, the effects can be reversed completely, so it's imperative to know the signs.


There are many different symptoms and signs and a victim can have 2 or more:

The most common signs are:

Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm, or leg (mainly on one side of the body)
Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance
Sudden confusion or trouble talking or understanding speech
Sudden bad headache with no known cause

Women may have unique symptoms:

Sudden face and arm or leg pain
Sudden hiccups
Sudden nausea (feeling sick to your stomach)
Sudden tiredness
Sudden chest pain
Sudden shortness of breath (feeling like you can’t get enough air)
Sudden pounding or racing heartbeat



If you suspect someone might have had a stroke remember the 3 different steps to determine the possibility: STR (the first 3 letters of the name)

It's as simple as asking the person 3 questions:

S * Ask the individual to SMILE.

T * Ask them to TALK and repeat a simple sentence.

R * Ask them to RAISE BOTH ARMS.

and have them STICK OUT THEIR TONGUE

If they have difficulty with any of the above tasks, or the tongue is crooked or lopsided, call 911 immediately and describe the individual's symptoms.

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