Know Your Stroke Risk
Are you at risk of having a stroke? Lifestyle and medical conditions are the two things that determine your risk of stroke. Consider the questions below and answer them with a simple yes or no.
- Do you have high blood pressure?
- Do you have high cholesterol?
- Do you have diabetes?
- Have you been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation?
- Do you smoke?
- Are you overweight?
- Do you avoid exercise?
- Do you have a close relative who has had a stroke?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions you are at greater risk of stroke. Having a stroke is a catastrophic event. Consider that you are in the prime of your life and are hit with a stroke. Your life is forever changed, not likely for the better. A stroke can result in blindness, paralysis, incontinence, numbness, inability to speak, inability to write, inability to swallow or walk or take care of yourself. I have had many patients who have had strokes that are no longer able to do anything for themselves, not even communicate. They are wheelchair or bed bound. They receive their nutrition through a tube in their stomach. They can’t talk with their loved ones, or reach out and touch them. Nothing.
If you answered yes to any of the above questions it might be a good idea to consider taking steps to eliminate or reduce your risk of stroke. There are many things that you can do to either eliminate your risk entirely or reduce it significantly.
- Quit smoking. Please. Smoking causes your blood vessels to constrict and decreases the elasticity of your vessels making it harder for blood to circulate. If you also have clogged arteries then often the blood can not get through your system and causes an ischemic stroke.
- Eat a low-fat high fiber diet. This will help you lose weight as well as lower your cholesterol and blood pressure.
- Exercise regularly, 30 minutes per day or more.
- Take your medications as prescribed by your physician if you have prescriptions.
- Lose weight. I know it is easier said than done. Get help if you need to. A BMI of less than 25 is best.
- Drink alcohol only in moderation.
- Take low-dose aspirin or a similar medication if your doctor recommends it for you. These meds are blood thinners and help to prevent strokes. If you are at risk of stroke ask your doctor if you should be taking a daily baby aspirin.
- Manage your blood sugars diligently if you have diabetes.
If you are at risk of stroke I hope you will consider making lifestyle changes, where possible, to reduce or eliminate your risk. Lifestyle changes could save your life.More importantly it could preserve the quality of your life. Your risk of stroke could change your life forever and the outcome could be worse than death.