Stroke And Stroke Risk: 5 Things You Should KnowStroke And Stroke Risk: 5 Things You Should Know

Each year in the United States, strokes affect almost 900,000 people and their families. Among those who survive a stroke, the effects can be devastating and debilitating. Many risk factors contribute to your chances of suffering one. Arming yourself with knowledge about strokes may allow you to prevent one from happening to you. Read on to learn about stroke and stroke risk: 5 things you should know.

Strokes are the third leading cause of death each year in the U.S.

Only cancer and heart disease kill more people in the U.S. each year than do strokes. If you are lucky enough to survive a stroke, you may be debilitated to the point that you can no longer work or care for yourself, straining your finances as well as the emotional health of you and your family as you deal with the effects.

Stroke can make your life harder

Thy physical effects of a stroke can make your life much more difficult. After a stroke, many people have issues with mobility, often requiring full-time nursing care and wheelchairs for transportation. Paralysis, even if on only one side of the body, can make tying shoes, bathing, eating, and dressing without assistance difficult, if not impossible. Problems with vision or speaking, cognitive problems, sexual dysfunction, and incontinence are also common.

You can not control some risk factors

Some risk factors are beyond your control. If an immediate family member has ever had a stroke, your risk is increased. Men are also more likely to have a stroke, although women die more often from them. Those in the geographical southeast have a higher prevalence of stroke, as do African Americans and those suffering from diabetes. Also, with each decade after the age of 55, your chances for a stroke double.

You can control some risk factors

The good news is that you can control some of the risks that often lead to strokes. Living a healthy lifestyle is crucial. Do not smoke cigarettes, and if you do, quit. Limit your alcohol intake to one per day for women and two per day for men. Get off the couch and get some exercise each day. Even 30 minutes of exercise per day is beneficial. If you are obese, lose weight. Choose to eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, and healthy fats from nuts or olive oil, limiting red meat, animal based fats, and fried foods. If your blood cholesterol or blood pressure is high, see your physician for medications that will control the problem.

Preventive screening can reduce your risk

More than half of all people who suffer from a stroke had no symptoms beforehand. Occasionally, a person will have mini-strokes, called transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), before undergoing a larger, more devastating stroke. If you have temporary problems with a severe headache, blurred vision, numbness or tingling on one side of the body, dizziness, loss of balance, difficulty talking or understanding speech, you may be having a TIA.

Because most strokes are symptomless, though, preventive screening is crucial and can save your life. Mobile screening companies now make the process quick, easy, and convenient. Many set up screenings in local gyms, churches, or community centers. At the screening, a skilled sonographer performs an ultrasound of the carotid arteries, a process that is painless and is the best indicator of stroke and heart disease.
by Aimee Whitfill
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