Blood Pressure

Strokes are common but not inevitable. There are ways you can reduce your risk, starting with your blood pressure. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of permanent disability, said Dr. Gary Bernardini, neurology chair at New York-Presbyterian Hospital Queens.
Stroke is a medical condition in which poor blood flow to the brain results in cell death. There are two main types of stroke: ischemic, due to lack of blood flow, and hemorrhagic, due to bleeding. Both result in parts of the brain not functioning properly. Signs and symptoms of a stroke may include an inability to move or feel on one side of the body, problems understanding or speaking, dizziness, or loss of vision to one side.

The stroke has occurred

Signs and symptoms often appear soon after the stroke has occur. If symptoms last less than one or two hours it is known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or mini-stroke. A hemorrhagic stroke may also be associate with a severe headache. The symptoms of a stroke can be permanent. Long-term complications may include pneumonia or loss of bladder control.

The main risk factor for stroke is high blood pressure. Other risk factors include tobacco smoking, obesity, high blood cholesterol, diabetes mellitus, a previous TIA, and atrial fibrillation. An ischemic stroke is typically cause by blockage of a blood vessel, though there are also less common causes. A hemorrhagic stroke is cause by either bleeding directly into the brain or into the space between the brain’s membranes.

Most strokes occur when blood flow to the brain gets cut off. Here, Bernardini offers some stroke-prevention tips: High blood pressure is the biggest stroke risk factor. Always monitor your blood pressure, and if it’s elevated, talk to your doctor about creating a plan to lower it.

Vegetables every day

It’s also smart to maintain a healthy weight and have a healthy diet. That means reducing salt intake, avoiding high-cholesterol foods, eating multiple servings of fruits and vegetables every day, and eating whole grains. Along with weight control and lower blood pressure, exercise is an independent reducer of stroke risk. Try to do moderate-intensity exercise at least five days a week, Bernardini said.
Limit or avoid alcohol consumption. More than one to two drinks a day can significantly increase your stroke risk. If you smoke, try to quit. People who smoke have a nearly four-times increase risk of stroke, according to the World Health Organization. Get a regular physical. Knowing your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels will give you an idea of your health and what you need to do to lower your risk of stroke.
Learn about your family history of stroke. This can help you and your doctor plan any necessary precautions. You should also know the signs of stroke and seek immediate treatment if they occur, Bernardini emphasize. Strokes are a severe medical emergency, and time is of the essence for successful treatment, they said in a hospital news release.
By recognizing and quickly responding to the signs of stroke, you can potentially save your own life or the life of a family member or friend. To identify and respond to a stroke, remember the acronym FAST: facial drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulties, time to call emergency services.