It’s killing more than 140,000 people each year, and here is what you can do to save yourself!
It is the 5th leading cause of death and affects over 795,000 people each year. Experts say that it is preventable 80% of the time. My question to you is; if you knew you were at risk, would you do anything about it?
Strokes can be prevented. Knowing what the precursors are and the signs of a stroke can save lives.
Strokes are the leading cause of long term disability in the United States, and stroke recovery is a lifelong process. Therafit Rehab is committed to helping those who have suffered from a stroke, achieve the best possible outcomes.
However, we are also on a mission to educate our community on the importance of stroke prevention and healthy living.
PREVENTING A STROKE
As I mentioned above, researchers say that up to 80% of strokes are preventable. I have met several people now that had many risk factors and ended up having massive strokes that have now left them severely disabled.
If you have any of these signs, I cannot urge you enough, start today with just one of the factors and make a change. Just pick one thing, and start changing that one thing. Then, when it is resolved, pick another thing and start changing that.
That is how true change is brought about, one movement at a time. We call these small changes baby steps. Let’s talk about some of these risk factors first.
This is a very obvious one. And perhaps the hardest to change. What we put into our bodies is crucial. And the older we get the more easy it is to have the mindset that “I will die one day and might as well live it up while I am here”. Well I am telling you that my patients have thought that way too. And they would be the first to tell you that Strokes do not ALWAYS kill people.
Living with a stroke is hard. Learning to walk, talk, dress, and feed yourself again is not easy. And any of our patients would say that if they could have done something to prevent it, they absolutely would have.
So, let’s talk about what you can do right now. First, avoid sodium. Go light on the table salt and stay away from packaged and processed foods. These foods are usually loaded with sodium to help preserve the foods. However, high sodium diets can increase your blood volume and put increased strain on your heart.
GO WHOLE! Whole foods like fresh veggies, fruits, lean meats, legumes, nuts, greens, and oils can be great for you. Again, the baby step principle can be great here by just committing to add one extra healthy meal in per week. Eventually, you will be eating great and it will be a much easier transition rather than attempting to cold turkey all those wonderfully unhealthy foods.
While a healthy and active lifestyle is certainly not a green card to avoiding strokes, it can significantly decrease your chances of having a stroke. Over the last decade I have treated several patients that were marathon runners prior to their strokes, however they were definitely the exceptions to the more common inactive patients. Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week (CDC’s recommendations).
Physical exercise could include: Brisk walking, jogging/running, swimming, biking, yoga, exercise classes and much more! If you are not currently exercising, I recommend finding an accountability partner to decide to get healthy with. Make a commitment to do just one thing each week.
For instance, start by making the commitment to walk 5,000 steps the first week. Then increase it to 7,500 steps the second week. Then to 10,000 the next week. Then maybe the following week dedicate a morning to go for a walk.
These are baby steps, and every step builds upon the previous step. This is how we make lifestyle changes. It is not a complete overhaul in one day, rather a series of baby steps that eventually changes your life…
Did you know that by smoking and/or drinking excessively that you automatically increase your chance of having a stroke? These are two of the most common addictions in the US today and both can be very hard to cease. However, knowing these can significantly increase your chances of having a stroke, can be incentive enough.
If you need some help to quit drinking or smoking, HelpGuide can be a great resource with tons of information and useful tools. Visit HelpGuide HERE.
Medical Risk Factors
Below are some of the medical conditions that can also increase your likelihood of stroke:
- ATRIAL FIBRILLATION (AFIB)
- HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
- CAROTID ARTERY DISEASE
- HIGH CHOLESTEROL
This is a common heart condition in which the upper two chambers of the heart (the atria) beat irregularly and out of sync with the two lower chambers (the ventricles). The symptoms of this condition could be fatigue, shortness of breath and heart palpitations.
This condition can cause blot to clot in the heart and later be pushed to the brain resulting in a stroke. Up to eighty percent of people that have strokes with Atrial Fibrillation could have been prevented. It is also the leading risk factor of strokes.
If you are having these symptoms then you should make an appointment with your doctor. However, this is a condition that can be reversed with exercise and dieting. You can read more on that HERE.
ARE YOU HAVING A STROKE?
Be prepared and equipped to help yourself or a loved one when they are in need. Quick identification of stroke signs is the first step to aid in recovery. Preparation is the key to identifying a Stroke before it’s too late.
Key signs and symptoms that tell you it’s time to go to the emergency room:
Signs of a Stroke – Think F.A.S.T.
F- Facial droop
Does one side of the face droop down or is numb. Ask the person to smile, is one side lopsided or droopy?
A- Arm weakness
Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to lift both arms, does one side drift downwards?
S- Speech difficulty
Is their speech garbled or slurred, can they understand what you are saying? Ask them to repeat a sentence to you, can they repeat what you say?
T- Time to call 9-1-1
If the person has one or more of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately, even if they symptoms go away. Just because the symptoms are not showing, does not mean that you should not seek medical help. If unsure, CALL ANYWAYS. Getting timely care is essential. Note the time of onset of symptoms.
People experiences symptoms differently. Symptoms can appear in different combinations or by themselves.
Other symptoms you may experience in conjunction with FAST symptoms:
- Sudden confusion, irritability, not acting like themselves
- Sudden trouble seeing out of both eyes or reporting altered vision from baseline
- Sudden onset of weakness and numbness of arm/leg/face on one side of the body
- Sudden trouble walking or maintaining balance, difficulty with coordination
- Severe headache of unknown cause
Receiving timely stroke management is an important step in recovery. It is essential to get to the hospital as quickly as possible when stroke symptoms appear. Immediate treatment may reduce the long-term effects of a stroke and may even prevent patient death.
A stroke occurs when a vessel in the brain gets blocked or ruptures. When a person has a blockage, this results in an ischemic stroke. Immediate treatment includes IV tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) that works at dissolving the clot to improve blood flow to that area of the brain to aid in recovery. If received within 3-4 hours of onset of symptoms, tPA may improve chances of recovery.
Now you are educated to help family and friends. Always remember to act FAST. Acting FAST can save your loved ones.
If you or a loved one has had a stroke, please take a look at our free ebook to help you jumpstart your recovery: