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Helping to prevent strokes starts with knowing some of the risks

A large percentage of all strokes are preventable, according to the National Stroke Association.

Stroke prevention guidelines will help you learn how you may be able to lower your risk for a first stroke.

Know your blood pressure. Have it checked at least annually. If it is elevated, work with your doctor to keep it under control. If the higher number is consistently above 120 or if the lower number is consistently over 80, talk to your doctor. High blood pressure or hypertension is a leading cause of stroke.

Find out if you have atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation or AF is an irregular heartbeat that changes how your heart works and allows blood to collect in the chambers of your heart. This blood, which is not moving through your body, tends to clot. The beating of your heart can move one of these blood clots into your blood stream and can cause a stroke. Your doctor can diagnose AF by carefully taking your pulse.

If you smoke, stop. Smoking doubles the risk for stroke. If you stop smoking today, your risk for stroke will immediately begin to drop.

If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Studies now show that drinking up to two alcoholic drinks per day can reduce your risk for stroke by about half. More alcohol than this each day can increase your risk for stroke by as much as three times and also lead to liver disease, accidents and more. If you drink, we recommend no more than two drinks each day, and if you don't drink, don't start!

Find out if you have high cholesterol. If your total cholesterol level is over 200, you may be at increased risk for stroke. LDL or bad cholesterol is the form that builds up and causes plaque which may narrow arteries and limit or stop blood flow. LDL can be inherited, a result of your body chemistry or the result of a diet high in saturated fats, lack of exercise, or diabetes.

If you are diabetic, follow your doctor's advice carefully to control your diabetes. Work with your doctor and your dietitian to develop a healthy eating program that fits your lifestyle.

Exercise: Include exercise in your daily activities. A brisk walk for as little as 30 minutes a day can improve your health in many ways.

Enjoy a lower sodium, lower fat diet. By cutting down on sodium and fat in your diet, you may be able to lower your blood pressure and most importantly, lower your risk for stroke.

Circulation problems: with movement of the blood through the heart and blood vessels. Ask your doctor if you have circulation problems which increase your risk for stroke.

Know the symptoms of a stroke. If you have any stroke symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

These include: sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg especially on the side of the body; sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; or sudden severe headache with no known cause.

Seek medical attention fast if any of these symptoms develop.



Web posted on Thursday, May 24, 2007













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