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Act Fast: Understanding Stroke and How to Lower Its Risk

What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘stroke’? To some, it may lead them to think of family members or friends who are suffering or even died because of this disease. To some it may be a mystery.

stroke

A report from the American Heart Association in 2022 revealed that stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term disability. It reduces mobility in more than half of stroke survivors aged 65 and older. What’s more surprising is that every 3.5 minutes, someone dies of stroke (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022). Alarming, isn’t it?

Understanding what a stroke is, its symptoms, risks, and prevention methods can help us fight against the harm of a stroke. So, let’s start by defining stroke.

What is a stroke?

A stroke happens when blood flow to your brain is blocked. This can cause brain damage, disability, and death.

There are 2 types of strokes: ischemic and hemorrhagic. Ischemic stroke happens when a blood clot blocks the flow of the blood to the brain. On the other hand, hemorrhagic stroke happens when a blood vessel bursts inside the brain.

Who is at risk for stroke?

Anyone can have a stroke at any age. Your chance of having a stroke can increase if you have certain risk factors, including age, gender, family history. People who have a history of stroke in their families are more likely to live in similar situations and be exposed to additional risk factors. When inheritance is coupled with harmful lifestyle decisions like smoking and eating poorly, the risk of stroke can rise even further.

Unhealthy habits such as poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and drug use are important factors to consider.

stroke risks

Additionally, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and being overweight increases one’s risk of having a stroke.

What are the indicators that someone may be having stroke?

Every minute counts during a stroke! Quick treatment can reduce the brain damage caused by a stroke. Knowing the signs and symptoms of a stroke allows you to act quickly and potentially save a life—even your own.

The following are signs one must be mindful of when detecting stroke:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness, especially on one side of the body, in the arm, leg, or face.
  • Unexpected difficulty speaking, understanding, or perplexity.
  • Sudden vision problems in either one or both eyes.
  • Sudden difficulty walking, lightheadedness, losing your balance, or having poor coordination.
  • Abrupt, debilitating headache with no apparent explanation.

stroke management

What actions should you take if you think someone is experiencing a stroke?

If the signs and symptoms given above are evident, act F.A.S.T. and do the following:

  • F—Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
  • A—Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • S—Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or strange?
  • T—Time: If you see any of these signs, call 9-1-1 right away.

What are some things one can do to reduce the risk of having a stroke?

Here are some tips to reduce the risks of stroke.  

Maintain a healthy diet.

You can reduce your risk of stroke by selecting nutritious meals and snacks. Ensure that you consume the appropriate amount of fresh fruits and vegetables daily.

stroke prevention
Consuming meals high in fiber and low in cholesterol, trans fats, and saturated fats can help avoid high cholesterol. Your likelihood of experiencing a stroke is increased by having excessive cholesterol and high blood pressure. Consider consulting with a nutritionist for more information.

Be physically active.

Maintaining a healthy weight and lowering your cholesterol and blood pressure are all benefits of physical activity. Doctors generally advise individuals to engage in 2 hours and 30 minutes of weekly moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as a brisk stroll. Every day, kids and teenagers should engage in an hour of physical activity.

stroke prevention
Manage your weight.

Being overweight increases your risk of experiencing a stroke. Doctors frequently analyze your body mass index to determine whether your weight is within a healthy level (BMI). They may also measure extra body fat using the waist and hip measurements.

Drink less alcohol and don’t smoke.

If you drink too much alcohol, your blood pressure can go up. Men shouldn’t have more than two drinks per day, and women shouldn’t have more than one drink per day.

Also, smoking cigarettes makes you much more likely to have a stroke. Don’t start smoking if you don’t already. If you smoke, stopping will make you less likely to have a stroke. Your doctor can help you find ways to stop.

Monitor cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar level.

Regularly check with your doctor if you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or symptoms of diabetes. Your doctor could advise making specific lifestyle adjustments, such as increasing your physical activity or eating better. By taking these steps, you can keep your health under control and reduce your chance of stroke.

Work closely with a healthcare professional.

You and your doctor can collaborate to prevent or treat the medical conditions that cause a stroke.

stroke consultation

Bring a list of questions to your appointments and discuss your treatment plan on a regular basis.

If you think you are at risk of stroke, you can also consult an insurance agent and check what plan can help you with your medication, check-up, and rehabilitation. We at Simple Choice Insurance Brokerage are more than willing to assist you. We have certified agents that can help you get the most our of your plan to help you with stroke-related concerns. 

Closing Thoughts

While you can’t control your age or family history, you can take steps to lower your chances of having a stroke. You can help prevent stroke by making healthy choices and controlling any health conditions you may have. Start today, start FAST.

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