woman holding her chest signaling stroke

Stroke Awareness: What to Do for Prevention

A stroke can come on suddenly, without any warning. Most strokes occur because part of the brain suffers from a blood clot in its artery. When this happens, blood and oxygen flow to the brain is interrupted, and parts of the brain can die.

Strokes are a leading cause of death and disability in the United States, and each year, nearly 800,000 Americans have a stroke. Strokes can occur at any age, but they are most common in people over 65. As a result, it’s essential to be aware of the risk factors and symptoms of stroke and to take steps to prevent them.

There are two main types of stroke: ischemic and hemorrhagic. Ischemic strokes, which account for about 87 percent of all strokes, is due to the blood clot. On the other hand, hemorrhagic strokes are caused by a ruptured blood vessel that bleeds into the brain.

Several risk factors for stroke include high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, atrial fibrillation (a heart condition), and family history. Some of these risk factors can be controlled, while others cannot. However, you can always find a way to figure out if you are at risk. Here are a few things to do to prevent stroke.

Keep Track of Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a leading cause of stroke, so keeping track of your numbers is essential. You can check your blood pressure at your doctor’s office or purchase a home blood pressure monitor. If you have high blood pressure, work with your doctor to find ways to lower it.

One of the best ways to lower blood pressure is to exercise regularly. Exercise helps the heart pump blood more efficiently and can lower blood pressure by up to 10 points. Eating a healthy diet can also help lower blood pressure. Try to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. And limit your sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams (mg) a day or less.

Quit Smoking

Smoking is one of the leading risk factors for stroke. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health. Talk to your doctor about ways to quit smoking. Many resources are available to help you, including nicotine replacement therapy and counseling.

Unfortunately, addiction can be a difficult thing to overcome. Nicotine withdrawal can cause intense cravings, anxiety, and irritability. However, it is essential to remember that these feelings are only temporary. With the help of your doctor and support group, you can overcome nicotine addiction and improve your health.

It’s important to remember that you are not alone. Many people have successfully quit smoking, and resources are available to help you.

Be Aware of the Stroke Symptoms

Stroke symptoms can come on suddenly and can be easy to miss. That’s why it’s important to know the signs for the condition. Here are some common stroke symptoms:

  • Face and limb numbness or weakness
  • Struggles with speaking or confusion
  • Partial or complete vision loss
  • Walking problems, dizziness, or loss of balance
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

If you experience any of these symptoms, please call 9-1-1 immediately and get to a hospital as soon as possible. Time is of the essence when it comes to stroke treatment.

Get an MRI Scan

A stroke patient getting MRI scan

A brain MRI scan can help doctors determine if a person has had a stroke and how to treat it best. This test is painless and only takes a few minutes. Your doctor may recommend an MRI scan if you have stroke symptoms or are at risk for stroke.

MRI scans use magnetic fields and radio waves to create brain images. They are very safe and have no known side effects.

However, MRI scans can be uncomfortable for people with claustrophobia, a fear of enclosed spaces. If you have claustrophobia, your doctor can give you a sedative to help you relax during the test. If you want to avoid sedatives, you might be better off with an open and upright MRI scanner to prevent feeling enclosed.

Talk to Your Doctor About Aspirin Therapy

Aspirin therapy is often recommended for people who have had a stroke or are at risk for stroke. Aspirin helps thin the blood and prevent clots from forming. It is a simple and effective way to reduce the risk of stroke.

If you are considering aspirin therapy, talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits. Aspirin can cause side effects such as stomach bleeding and ulcers. It is also not recommended for people who are allergic to aspirin or have certain medical conditions.

Your doctor will help you decide if aspirin therapy is right for you.

Final Thoughts

A stroke is a severe medical condition that can be fatal. However, there are many things you can do to lower your risk of stroke. Making lifestyle changes and being aware of the symptoms can help prevent stroke and improve your overall health. Talk to your doctor if you think you may be at risk for stroke. They can help you make lifestyle changes and determine if aspirin therapy is right for you.

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