Stroke is an epidemic that is not usually given the press that heart disease and cancer usually get. Yet strokes kill millions of people every year worldwide. The American Heart Association does have a stroke prevention site, because stroke and heart disease are often found together. However, the push for the public to understand stroke symptoms and to get help immediately isn’t as publicized as the need for CPR and defibrillators. Some work places now have informational posters warning about the signs of a stroke, but stroke prevention and recognition is poorly understood.
Symptoms are not the only issues that leave the public in the dark. How to prevent strokes is also not very well known. Everyone seems to know that they need to “take care of themselves” and “lead a healthy lifestyle,” but what do these concepts really mean in terms of stroke prevention? While it is true that the preventative measures between heart disease and stroke are similar, they are not exactly the same. In addition, it doesn’t hurt to follow the regulations for both conditions because they are very often seen together. If you want to lower your risk of stroke, you may want to take a look at the following areas of your life.
You should have a physical at least once per year, especially if you are over 50. Many risk factors for stroke can be caught early at these appointments, and it is a great way to keep up with your health. One of the first things that a doctor will check is your blood pressure. You can have high blood pressure and not even know it. In fact, you can have life threatening high blood pressure and not know it. For this reason, screening for blood pressure issues is the number one reason to have a physical.
Another problem that can crop up during a physical is diabetes. If your blood sugar is out of control, you run a much higher risk of having a stroke. Again, some people have elevated blood sugars and don’t know it. However, hunger, thirst, and urination in excess are some of the signs that diabetes is present. If you have already been diagnosed with diabetes, it is important to keep up with your medications and check your blood sugar often. When this runs out of control, many problems, such as blindness, heart attack, and limb amputation, can occur. It is also one of the leading causes of stroke and should be strictly controlled.
Exercise is one of the most important habits you can build for yourself. It improves the strength of bones, makes the heart pump more efficiently, and allows you to breathe easier during everyday tasks. Stroke is greatly reduced by choosing to exercise every day. You don’t need to lift weights or use fancy machinery. Just getting out and walking is a great way to decrease your possibility of having a stroke. There are several reasons why this is so.
Exercise lowers cholesterol which helps keep blockages from starting in the brain. In addition, moving around helps to lower the risk of clots. For instance, clots can form in your legs if you don’t use them regularly. The calf muscles need to be thoroughly exercised to prevent blood from pooling and clots from forming. If you have diabetes, exercise is an easy way to keep your blood sugar under control, and this itself can prevent strokes. It also lowers blood pressure. As you can see, the many benefits of exercise far outweigh any perceived inconvenience. Take it slow, check with your doctor, and give it a shot to prevent a stroke.
If you want to decrease your risk of stroke, you absolutely have to have a diet program to control cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar. Everyone seems to know that cholesterol is a high risk factor for strokes. Instead of eating foods that are high in saturated fats, you should try to eat foods that don’t have a high fat content. This means eating lean meats instead of standard red meats, and it also would help to have white chicken breast rather than dark. If you are really serious, seafood at least two or three times per week will help lower your cholesterol.
Sodium is another risk factor that can increase your risk of high blood pressure. Salt can hide in many forms. It isn’t just the salt you put on your meals, but the amount of sodium in processed foods can make your blood pressure go sky high. If you eat a lot of processed foods, check how much sodium is in it, and keep within your daily limits. Sodium differs from person to person, so ask your doctor about how much you should have. Blood sugar is important, too. If you have diabetes, you need to keep your sugar low. This means that avoiding carbohydrates and eating more proteins can keep your blood sugar within range, avoiding the risk that diabetes has in stroke.