stroke

10 Natural Ways to Prevent a Stroke

Eli Ben-Yehuda

Written by Eli Ben-Yehuda

On October 28, 2018
Prevent a Stroke

If you’re like most Americans, you plan your future. When you take a job, you examine its benefit plan. When you buy a home, you consider its location and condition so that your investment is safe. Today, more and more Americans are protecting their most important asset—their brain. Are you?

Stroke ranks as the fourth leading killer in the United States. A stroke can be devastating to individuals and their families, robbing them of their independence. It is the most common cause of adult disability. Each year approximately 795,000 Americans have a stroke, with about 160,000 dying from stroke-related causes.

So far we have shared with you two previous articles. With today being World Stroke Day we are releasing our final article, about ways to prevent stroke. We will look at different things that you can do to prevent having your first stroke, or a recurring one. 

Here are 10 ways to prevent stroke: 
1. Lower your blood pressure

Experts say that 80% of strokes can be prevented. The single best way to prevent a stroke is to get your blood pressure in the healthy range. That means lower than 120/80. Healthy arteries are flexible, strong and elastic. Their inner lining is smooth so that blood flows freely, supplying vital organs and tissues with nutrients and oxygen.

Hypertension gradually increases the pressure of blood flowing through your arteries. As a result, you might experience damage to your brain by way of a stroke. High blood pressure is a huge factor, doubling or even quadrupling your stroke risk if it is not controlled. “High blood pressure is the biggest contributor to the risk of stroke in both men and women,” Dr. Rost says.

2. Maintain a healthy diet

Eating healthy food is an integral part of stroke prevention. Lowering the amount of fat (especially trans and saturated fats) you consume will reduce the risk of clots in arteries. If you have issues lowering your cholesterol level by diet alone, your doctor may need to prescribe medication.

There are many diets to choose from, but the one recommended for cardiovascular health (related to strokes) is the Mediterranean diet. It consists of many fruits and vegetables every day, fish (and other lean, white meats), nuts, olive oil, and whole grains. Also remember to reduce your salt intake, avoid red and fatty meats, and again, lower your intake of trans and saturated fats.

According to Food Revolution expert Michael Greger, MD, the best way to avoid suffering from a stroke is to eat a whole food, plant-based diet centered around vegetables, lentils, beans, seeds, whole grains, fruits, and nuts. But to get the full benefits, plant-strong eaters must have a regular, reliable source of B12 — meaning B12-fortified foods or supplements.

3. Exercise

Another essential part of lowering your risk of stroke is regular exercise. For stroke prevention, you want to focus on cardiovascular exercises, including biking, jogging, and using an elliptical machine.

Cardio exercise lowers your blood pressure, increases good cholesterol in your body, and improves the resilience of your heart and arteries. These exercises also help you lose weight and lower your stress levels.

The Surgeon General recommends two-and-a-half hours of moderate cardio exercise every week for adults. If you haven’t exercised in a while, you’ll want to start now with up to 30 minutes every day of a moderate activity, such as walking, riding a bike, or swimming.

Try to do this every day and make it a habit—like brushing your teeth.

Before starting any exercise routine, especially if you are recovering from a stroke or lead a sedentary life, consult your doctor. They can help you choose the best types of exercise for your current physical condition.

4. Quit smoking

There are no two ways about it: smoking is bad for you. If you want to prevent a stroke, quitting smoking is possibly the best thing you can do. Inhaling nicotine thickens your blood, making it more likely to clot; it also increases your blood pressure and reduces the amount of oxygen that makes it to your brain and other organs.

Smoking can cause aneurysms and is linked to heart disease, lung disease, and cancer. It increases your risk of ischemic attack twofold, and your risk of hemorrhagic stroke fourfold.

Smoking also causes atherosclerosis (fatty deposits) in the carotid artery, which is the main blood vessel to your brain. Atherosclerosis in the carotid artery is actually the main cause of stroke in the United States.

If you are a smoker and want to quit, your doctor can recommend programs and medication that help during your withdrawal period. The benefits of quitting smoking appear within just a few hours. And after 15 years of being smoke-free, your heart health is the same as someone who has never smoked.

5. Limit alcohol consumption

Alcohol consumption can either be a risk factor or a preventative measure. It all depends on how much you drink.

Heavy drinking is a risk factor; it increases your blood pressure and your risk of ischemic attack and hemorrhagic stroke. However, moderate drinking (one drink a day) actually prevents ischemic stroke and helps keep your blood free of clots.

Since drinking alcohol may interact with your medication, make sure to consult your doctor and discuss appropriate alcohol consumption. If you’re not sure if your drinking habits are moderate, consult this handy guide by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.ways to prevent stroke

6. Control diabetes

A diabetes diagnosis is a risk factor for strokes. High blood sugar damages blood vessels, which makes it more likely that clots will form. Prevent strokes by keeping your diabetes under control. Follow your doctor’s and nutritionist’s instructions, monitor your blood sugar, and implement other lifestyle changes, such as exercise and a healthy diet.

7. Treat Atrial Fibrillation and other heart conditions

Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is an under-diagnosed and under-treated heart condition and a major risk factor for stroke.

AF causes the two upper chambers of the heart (the atria) to quiver instead of beating effectively, resulting in blood not being completely pumped out, which in turn causes pooling and can lead to clotting. These clots can travel to the brain and trigger a major and often fatal stroke. Stroke due to AF is highly preventable by anti-clotting drugs.

WSO (World Stroke Organization) recommends that persons who have experienced a heart attack, have been diagnosed with a heart ailment or have irregular heart rhythm, to regularly visit health services in order to prevent the occurrence of a stroke.

8. Get optimal sleep

If you want to reduce your risk of stroke, getting the optimal amount of sleep regularly is important.

Researchers at the University of Alabama found a strong link between getting less than six hours of sleep and a greater incidence of stroke symptoms for people over 45.

9. Be more optimistic

According to scientists at Harvard University, people with sunny dispositions are far less likely to suffer from strokes or heart attacks. Studies found a 50% reduction in cardiovascular disease for those who scored highest for optimism and vitality.

10. Increase vitamin D levels

Low levels of vitamin D increase your risk of stroke. According to one study, low levels of vitamin D doubles the risk of stroke in Caucasians. You can increase your vitamin D levels with exposure to sun, supplementation, or by eating vitamin D-fortified foods.

Prevent Strokes By Being Healthy

Factors like age, gender, and ethnicity cannot be controlled, but remember that 80 percent of strokes are preventable via a healthy lifestyle.

A healthy diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains; a regular exercise routine; controlling conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes; and abstaining from smoking or heavy drinking are all part of a generally healthy lifestyle that can prevent not only strokes, but also a host of other conditions.

 

 

stroke

Symptoms and Warning Signs of a Stroke

Eli Ben-Yehuda

Written by Eli Ben-Yehuda

On October 21, 2018

Strokes are the third leading cause of death in the United States. More than 140,000 people die each year from a stroke in the U.S. Having a stroke is also the leading cause of having a lifetime disability. 

Each year approximately 795,000 people will suffer from a stroke. Of those, 600,000 will experience their first stroke and 185,000 people will experience a recurrent attack.

World Stroke Day will begin on October 29th, 2018. So for the next few newsletters, we will be learning what are the signs and symptoms of a stroke, talk about the connection between high blood pressure and stroke, and discuss what we can do to prevent a stroke.

Can you get a stroke at any age?

On Average, someone in the United States will have a stroke every 40 seconds. And age does not matter, although some age brackets have a higher rate than others.

For example, while I was in the Marine Corp, my childhood friend Danny also decided to join. He was in basic training when I got a call from my parents. I could hear from the tone in my dad’s voice it was not good news.

My friend Danny had had a major stroke while drilling on the parade grounds. He was left unable to do anything for himself. He could not communicate with us and he was more like a one-year-old child. He was helpless. He was only 19 years old.

So if you are thinking you are too young to have a stroke, you’re not. The information we are going to provide for you may, in the end, save your life.

What is a stroke? 

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel bringing blood and oxygen to the brain becomes blocked by a clot or ruptures. When this occurs, brain cells do not get the blood and oxygen they need to survive. This, in turn, causes nerve cells to begin dying within minutes. Then, the part of the body they control stops functioning.

The effects of a stroke can be permanent depending on how many nerve cells have been destroyed, where they are located in the brain and other factors.

The symptoms of a stroke can be a weakness, paralysis, and language motor function. A stroke can also affect your vision and cause other problems.

What is a mini-stroke? 

A “mini-stroke”, also known as TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack), occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery for a short time. The symptoms of a TIA are the same as a stroke. But unlike a stroke, the symptoms last for only a few minutes.

According to the American Heart Association, 15% of major strokes are preceded by a TIA. Don’t ignore it. Call 911 immediately.

FAST stroke signs

Knowing the common warning signs of a stroke is very important. Every minute counts. Use the FAST test to check for the most common symptoms of a stroke, for yourself, or someone else.

  • Face- Smile and see if one side of your face droops.
  • Arms- Raise both arms over your head. Does one arm drop down?
  • Speech- Say a short phrase and check for slurred or strange speech.
  • Time- If you answered yes to any one of these, call 911 immediately! And write down what time the symptoms started.

Time is precious in treating a stroke every minute counts. From the onset of the stroke, there is what is called the “Golden Hour”. Do not waste time calling your doctor and do not drive the person having the stroke to the hospital. Paramedic teams are better equipped and have more knowledge that just might save your life.

FAST stroke signs

What are the signs and symptoms of a stroke?

Sometimes the symptoms of a stroke may progress gradually. Sometimes not. But here are the symptoms you are more than likely to observe.

  • Numbness or weakness in your arms or legs, usually occurring on one side.
  • Confusion or trouble understanding other people.
  • Difficulty speaking.
  • Trouble seeing with one or both eyes.
  • Problems with walking and/or coordination.
  • Dizziness.
  • A severe headache that comes on for no reason.

If you have any of these symptoms call 911 immediately.

Non-traditional stroke symptoms
  • Pain in the face or half of the body.
  • Mental status change. Including Disorientation, confusion or loss of consciousness.
  • A headache.
  • General neurological symptoms. Hiccups, nausea, weakness.
  • Non-neurological symptoms include chest pain, palpitations, and shortness of breath.
The Golden Hour

There is a 60 minute period of time called the “Golden Hour.” It is during that 1 hour period that those who have suffered from a sudden stroke can have the results of that stroke reversed with thrombolytic clot-busting agents. This is why you do not have time to waste with the onset of symptoms. From my own nursing career, I have seen dramatic results of reversal in some of my patients.

The Financial Burden

Having a stroke is not only physically and emotionally draining, but it can also drain your finances quickly. The average cost of the hospital stay not including physicians, is $15,000. The average hospital stay is 5 days.

The mean lifetime cost of a stroke patient is between $165,537-$199,904. Depending on what type of stroke you have the treatment cost alone can be anywhere from $20,400-$32,00.

Strokes injure families

My mom was 64 years old when she passed away from a massive stroke. She refused to go to the hospital. My dad to called 911, finally, she went. But the damage was not reversible and 2 days later she passed away.

If someone you love exhibits the signs of a stroke, get help immediately. Don’t wait! I miss my mom and I do not want you to experience the same thing I did. With today’s technology, the outcome can be so much better for everyone.

 

heart attack

Carrie Fisher’s Death Puts Spotlight On Women’s Heart Disease.

Eli Ben-Yehuda

Written by Eli Ben-Yehuda

On January 4, 2017

On December 27th 2016 we lost a very memorable actress Carrie Fischer, sadly we also lost her mother Debbie Reynolds 24 hours later from a stroke. Carrie Fischer known for her epic role as Princess Leia in the movie series “Star Wars” died not at the hands of Darth Vader but at the hands of something far more sinister, heart disease.

 

“Heart disease is the number 1 killer of women and is deadlier than many forms of cancer” states Dr. Jennifer Mieres. According to statistics 4 out of every 10 women between the age of 45 and 64 will die of cancer, but every 1 minute a woman dies from stroke, heart attack, or the lesser known sudden cardiac arrest According to the American Heart Association.

 

According to the Center for Disease Control 2/3rds of the women who have sudden cardiac arrest had no previous symptoms. Whereas with men they experience shortness of breath, burning sensations, weakness. or fluctuating palpitations the chest, women tend to be asymptomatic. According to cardiologist Jay Stone M.D “Women tend to have atypical symptoms.”

 

Women’s symptoms may mimic other conditions. For example, unusual fatigue could be the flu. Profuse sweating could be a hot flash. A sore jaw could be temporomandibular joint disorder, better known as TMJ.

 

According to research 90% of women have 1-2 risk factors for heart disease. Despite those numbers though 80% of the problems can be eliminated. Such things as diet, exercise, quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and reducing alcohol consumption help to lower the risk factors. For more information concerning women’s heart disease issues contact the American Heart Society at https://www.goredforwomen.org/

 

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