One of the most dreaded diseases to strike a person is stroke. In fact it is the third largest killer in United States. It is not only disastrous to the person but to his or her family also.
So every sensible person should try to make sure that they do not fall victim to this ailment. And the good news is that stroke is very much preventable. But it helps to know a little more about stroke when you are really serious to prevent it.
What is Stroke?
A stroke is the condition when the blood circulation to the brain stops. This results in death of the brain cells from lack of oxygen. Strokes are of two types, the stroke caused by blockage of blood flow and the stroke caused by bleeding. The cause of almost 80 percent of the strokes is blockage and most of the times this may not be fatal.
The blockage occurs in a blood vessel in the brain or neck and this type of stroke is called ischemic stroke. Such blockages can be caused by a clot in the blood vessel and the condition is called thrombosis; movement of a clot from any other parts to the brain or neck and this condition is called embolism and from severe narrowing of artery going to the brain which condition is called stenosis. The other type of stroke where bleeding occurs in the brain is called hemorrhagic stroke.
The Warning Signs of Stroke
One of the ways to prevent stroke is to identify the warning signs. These are the signs to show that your brain is not getting enough supply of oxygen. Observing any of these following signs is a signal to call the doctor immediately.
1. A sudden weakness or numbness of face or limbs especially when they are observed on one side.
2. Sudden confusion and trouble in speaking or understanding.
3. Sudden trouble in seeing clearly in both eyes or any one.
4. Sudden dizziness, loss of coordination, trouble walking or loss of balance.
5. Sudden severe headache having no identified cause.
These are some very common signs but one can also experience double vision, nausea, vomiting and drowsiness. In the initial stages these symptoms may be short lived and such sudden short lived signs are called transient ischemic attacks (TIAS) or mini strokes. They should not be ignored as they are signs of serious underlying conditions. Beware and be alert. Most people tend to ignore these signs and suffer later.
Risk factors are the conditions having which a person can be at a greater risk of having a disease than the others. But it does not mean that a person with high risk will surely get the disease. The other side is true also. A person not having these risk factors can also fall a victim. This applies very much to stroke and the chances increase with the rise of numbers of risk factors.
Scientifically speaking, everyone can get a stroke, from the unborn fetus to a very old person. So age, sex, race has hardly any relation to getting stroke or not getting it. However, the silver lining is that most of these risk factors are treatable. And if you are under correct treatment then you can even avoid a stroke.
Treatable Risk Factors
High blood pressure is one of the most common risk factors of stroke. If a person is a chronic patient of high blood pressure or hypertension then he or she must regularly keep in touch with the doctor to work out some strategy to keep the pressure under check. Some common ways to do it are keeping the weight under check, avoiding drugs and substances that can raise the blood pressure, have fruits and vegetables that increase potassium in the diet, and work out regularly. Sometimes the person may also need medication to keep pressure under control.
Heart diseases like diseases of the coronary artery, valve defects, irregular heart beats and enlargement of heart may sometimes release clots into the blood vessels and which in turn can create blockages in the brain. Atherosclerosis is a common disease where fatty acids build up in the arteries. So it is important that you consult your doctor who can suggest ways to remove such build ups. Sometimes the doctor may even suggest a surgical cleaning of the artery if the profile matches a high risk group.
Those who have had warning signs of stroke should be also careful and if necessary consult the doctor immediately if such signs persist. Those who have already had one attack must be doubly alert as the body has already weakened and working double time to keep up. Another risk group is those with diabetes. Apart from affecting the body’s ability to use sugar it also affects the blood vessels including that of the brain. When a person who already has diabetes has stroke, it turns more serious than a person without high blood sugar as the complications are more.
Smoking is another factor that has been found to cause build up of fatty substances in the carotid artery which supplies blood to the brain. Nicotine found in tobacco raises blood pressure while carbon monoxide decreases the supply of oxygen and the smoke from the cigarette thickens blood. These three together can turn fatal for a high risk person. Apart from stroke, smoking has also been associated with other heart and lung diseases including cancer.
So, what are the things you should do to keep stroke at bay?
1. Have regular blood pressure checks
2. Have cholesterol checks
3. Quit smoking
4. Limit alcohol use
5. Control your weight
6. Exercise regularly
7. Follow a healthy diet
8. Consult the doctor for abnormal heartbeats (atrial fibrillation), transient ischemic attack (TIA) and circulation problems
These days more and more people are getting aware of stroke and following healthy lifestyles. Fitness and regular workouts are getting popular and people are getting more and more health conscious. Even worldwide campaigns have started for spreading the consciousness of this very preventable disorder.