Many people believe that strokes only happen to people in their senior years and may become shocked whenever they hear about young people succumbing to strokes. According to the National Strokes Association, a stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and kills over 133,000 people annually.
What Is A Stroke?
A stroke or a “brain attack” that occurs when a blood clot clogs a blood vessel or artery, which interrupts the normal blood flow through brain cells. Without sufficient blood flowing through an area of the brain, the brain cells die, resulting in brain damage. Depending on which part of the brain is affected by the interrupted blood flow, a stroke patient could lose abilities such as memory, movement and speech.
A stroke can be a mild or a deadly one, depending on where it occurs in the brain and which part of the brain is damaged. It can easily kill two million brain cells within a minute, which could result in permanent brain damage, disability and ultimately death.
Types of Strokes
1. Ischemic strokes come in two forms – thrombotic and embolic strokes
A thrombotic stroke happens when any of the arteries in the brain is blocked and blood flow is impaired. Thrombotic strokes are often caused by atherosclerosis and they usually happen in the larger arteries. Coronary artery disease and a heart attack follow which can ultimately cause death.
An embolic stroke takes place when the flow of blood is blocked by a clot. The blood clot usually takes place initially in the heart, but then migrates through the bloodstream, leading to the brain. The clot then blocks a small blood vessel in the brain where it lodges and causes the stroke.
2. A hemorrhagic stroke is caused by the breakage of a blood vessel in the brain. A hemorrhage in the brain is usually caused by long-term hypertension and cerebral aneurysm (weakening of the blood vessel wall).
Who Are At Risk?
Based on statistics, a stroke occurs every 40 seconds and causes death every four minutes. There are 55,000 more women than men who have strokes each year and African Americans are more susceptible to first-time strokes than whites. Those who have family histories of stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol are considered to be in the high-risk groups.
There are also other risk factors such as smoking, drinking too much alcohol, obesity, and lack of exercise that can contribute to the occurrence of a stroke. These are factors that could trigger a stroke if not properly managed. A change in lifestyle is often necessary to reverse a person’s risk level. These factors can be controlled through weight management, regular exercise, limiting one’s alcohol consumption, and quitting smoking.
You can click here to read more about the stroke and its prevention.
How To Reduce Risk of Strokes?
Many of the risk factors mentioned above are manageable by lifestyle changes and medical supervision. Here are some suggestions that can decrease the occurrence or recurrence of strokes:
- Hypertension is a major risk factor if not managed properly. Consult with your doctor who can prescribe medications to prevent sudden increases in your blood pressure. Have an automatic blood pressure machine at home and regularly monitor your blood pressure.
- High cholesterol levels could also trigger strokes since cholesterol can clog arteries and prevent blood flow. Analyze your diet and minimize eating fatty foods that contribute to high cholesterol. Have your cholesterol level tested regularly to make sure that it is below the risk level of more than 200.
- Diabetes is a genetic disorder that can lead to strokes, so if you have it in your family history, follow a nutrition program and a regular exercise routine. Consult your doctor who can prescribe medications to keep your blood sugar at a normal level. Check out various prescription drugs at PlanetDrugsDirect to get them online.
- Avoid stress and get enough sleep. Stress can lead to a lack of sleep that can cause your blood pressure to spike up. Get into a regular exercise routine, practice yoga or meditation, or get a massage. Avoid situations that can cause unnecessary stress.
- Control alcohol consumption and quit smoking. These are bad habits that can ultimately cause your life to end if left unmanaged. Most doctors recommend drinking no more than two drinks a day. Heavy smoking can damage blood vessel walls, cause clogs in the arteries, and raise blood pressure.
- Manage your diet. Excess weight only puts more strain on normal blood flow and is often the cause of high blood pressure. Avoid foods that are rich in saturated and trans fats that can cause high cholesterol. Eat more fruits and vegetables, drink plenty of water, and consume other liquids during the day.
The National Strokes Association warns that this year an estimated 795,000 strokes will occur. Do not be a part of those statistics. Consult your doctor who may prescribe medications for stroke if you belong to the high-risk groups and change your lifestyle to protect yourself from strokes.