Take These Steps to Prevent Having a Stroke

Take These Steps to Prevent Having a Stroke

Stroke is a disease affecting the arteries coming into and within the brain. In the United States, it’s the fifth-leading cause of death and a leading cause of disability.

Arteries carry oxygenated blood and other nutrients from the heart to the body’s tissues, including the brain. If an artery becomes blocked (by a clot or plaque) or ruptures, the brain area it serves can’t get the oxygen it needs, so brain cells die. That’s a stroke.

At Advanced Cardiac Care, located in the Ozone Park area of Queens, New York, Dr. Michael Avaricio and his team offer a full range of stroke services, including assessing your risk, administering stroke and post-stroke treatment, and helping you make lifestyle choices to decrease your stroke risk.

Here’s what you need to know about preventing stroke.

The different types of stroke

The are three main types of stroke:

Transient ischemic attack (TIA)

Also called a ministroke, a TIA occurs when an artery becomes temporarily blocked, usually for about 1-5 minutes. It leads to stroke symptoms but doesn’t cause permanent brain damage. It still requires emergency medical care, though, just as if it were a major stroke.

Ischemic stroke

Ischemic strokes account for about 87% of all strokes. They happen when a blood clot blocks an artery, preventing blood from flowing to the brain. Most clots develop as a result of atherosclerosis, a plaque of fatty deposits on the vessel’s inner wall. Unlike with a TIA, the blood clot won’t go away unless you receive treatment.

Hemorrhagic stroke

A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel within the brain breaks open or leaks blood into the surrounding tissues.

Stroke symptoms

The different stroke types cause similar symptoms because all affect blood flow in your brain. The only way to determine the exact type of stroke you’re having is to get medical help. Different imaging tests can give us a good picture of what’s happening.

The American Stroke Association recommends using FAST to identify stroke’s warning signs:

Additional symptoms include:

If you experience any of the warning signs, get medical help as soon as you can.

Steps to prevent a stroke

Treatments exist, from medication to surgery, but it’s better to prevent a stroke from occurring in the first place. Fortunately, there are many lifestyle changes you can make to do just that. Treatable risk factors include:

Hypertension

Hypertension is the strongest risk factor for stroke, causing a twofold to fourfold increase in risk before age 80. You can manage your risk by maintaining a healthy weight, cutting down on salt (sodium) intake, eating fruits and vegetables (increases potassium levels) and exercising regularly.

Smoking

Cigarette smoking causes a twofold increase in ischemic stroke risk and up to a fourfold increase in hemorrhagic stroke risk because it:

Stopping smoking can decrease both short- and long-term risks.

Heart disease

Coronary artery disease, irregular heart beat (atrial fibrillation), and especially atherosclerosis can all result in blood clots that can break loose, blocking blood vessels in or leading to the brain. 

Atrial fibrillation alone causes one in four strokes in people over age 80, which are associated with higher disability and mortality. Blood-thinning therapy and a surgical procedure to clean out the carotid artery are two common treatments.

Diabetes

Having diabetes is the equivalent of aging 15 years in terms of your heart and your risk for stroke, the latter because of hypertension. It causes destructive changes in the blood vessels throughout your body, including your brain.

If your blood glucose levels are high at the time of a stroke, brain damage is usually more extensive and severe than when it's well-controlled. Treating diabetes can delay the onset of complications that increase your risk of stroke.

Obesity and a sedentary lifestyle

Obesity and inactivity are associated with hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease, all of which are stroke risks. Increased body mass index (BMI) increases the risk of ischemic stroke threefold. Eat a healthy diet and get regular exercise to decrease your risk.

If you’re at high risk for a stroke or if you need help managing your stroke risk, contact us at Advanced Cardiac Care for a consultation. Call our office or book online with us today.

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