Stroke is the 5th leading cause of death in North Carolina. It is also the number one leading cause of disability in adults. However, up to 80% of strokes can be prevented! Knowing what causes a stroke and how you can reduce your risk is the key to stroke prevention.What Is A Stroke?
A stroke occurs when a blood vessel breaks or a blood clot blocks an artery. This causes brain cells to die and brain damage to occur which can affect movement, memory and speech.
There are certain risk factors for stroke that we cannot control, like race or gender, but there are also plenty of risk factors that we do have control over. You can practice stroke prevention by changing lifestyle habits and medical conditions that put you at risk. Below are some factors that can affect your risk for stroke and what you can do to control them:
- Blood Pressure and Cholesterol – be aware of your target levels and get checked frequently to make sure you’re staying healthy
- Atrial Fibrillation – this can increase your risk of stroke by 500% so it’s important that this gets diagnosed by your doctor
- Alcohol and Tobacco – frequent smoking doubles your risk for stroke and alcohol consumption that exceeds two drinks per week can also increase your risk
- Diabetes – having diabetes can put you at risk for a number of different health problems that lead to stroke, so work with your doctor to keep this disease under control
- Exercise – if you are overweight it puts excess stress on your circulatory system, so exercise 4-5 days a week and work towards maintaining a healthy weight
- Diet – maintain a healthy and well-balanced diet that includes foods that are low in cholesterol, sodium, and saturated and trans fats
- Circulation Problems – poor circulation can lead to blocked arteries which cause stroke, so get tested for circulation problems and take the proper medication if diagnosed
Use this scorecard to evaluate your level of risk for stroke and talk to your doctor about any concerns.
Stroke prevention is important even after you start experiencing the first signs and symptoms of a stroke. There are certain medications and treatments that can prevent long-term effects of stroke if given within the first few hours of showing symptoms. Use FAST to learn the warning signs of a stroke and to know when to get help:
Face: Does one side of the face droop?
Arms: Can both arms be lifted or does one drift downward?
Speech: Is speech slurred or strange?
Time: Call 911 immediately if you see any stroke symptoms.
If you or a loved one is experiencing stroke symptoms, call 911 or go to the closest emergency room. Johnston Health can assist you at our emergency rooms in both Smithfield and Clayton.