Can strokes be prevented?
In honor of National Stroke Awareness Month, we’d like to highlight stroke prevention. Many patients ask, “Can a stroke be prevented?”
Cerebrovascular accident, or stroke, is the fifth leading cause of death in the US. It is a medical emergency. The good news is that most strokes can be prevented with the right lifestyle changes. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as 80 percent of all CVAs could have been prevented with just a few simple lifestyle changes and proper care for cardiovascular health.
Understanding the risk factors for stroke can help you prevent cerebrovascular accidents. Some of these include:
- Genetics. Your odds of getting a CVA are higher if your parents, brother, or sister did.
- Age. Having a stroke becomes more likely as you age.
- Diet. Saturated fats and cholesterol increase the risk of stroke since they raise blood cholesterol levels. Cholesterol is a fatty substance in the blood that clogs arteries. A CVA occurs when cholesterol builds up in the arteries and blocks blood flow to the brain. Thus, a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol can reduce the risk.
- Smoking. Cigarette smoke contains nicotine and carbon monoxide, which damages the cardiovascular system. Therefore, smokers have a higher risk of cardiovascular events.
- Using Hormone Replacement Therapy. There is an increased risk of stroke associated with certain kinds of refills for Hormone Replacement Therapy. The risk is highest for women who take Hormone Replacement Therapy and smoke.
- Physical inactivity. Strokes are associated with a lack of physical activity.
- Obesity. A common risk factor for cerebrovascular accidents is obesity, along with elevated cholesterol and high blood pressure. A cerebrovascular accident is therefore more likely to occur in obese people.
Signs of a stroke
It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of strokes in order to prevent them. These symptoms can also accompany other illnesses. Acting quickly is the key to recovery from a CVA.
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms of stroke, please call 911 or seek medical attention immediately. Here are some signs to be on the lookout for:
- Speech problems. Slurred or garbled speech.
- Sudden confusion. Trouble understanding what others are saying.
- Trouble seeing or dimming vision. Rapid onset of vision problems in one or both eyes.
- Difficulty walking. Loss of coordination, difficulty walking, or feeling dizzy.
- Severe headache. A bad headache that occurs for no reason.
- Numbness or weakness. Weakness or numbness on only one side of the body.
Why acting quickly is important
Quick action saves lives. Strokes can be prevented by getting treatment immediately. The longer you wait for help, the less likely you are to recover and the worse the long-term prognosis. In this case, even if you are unsure about the symptoms, it is best to consult a physician.
Remember to call 911 if you believe you are having a stroke or to go to the emergency room.
You may also schedule an appointment or visit an urgent care near you at any Nao Medical location to talk to a doctor about your risk today. We can help reduce your risk of cerebrovascular accidents.