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What can I do reduce my stroke risk?

Posted on January 17, 2018

Although you cannot predict a medical emergency, there are many things you can do right now to reduce your stroke risk.

Emergency Room Sign

What exactly is a stroke? 

A stroke, or brain attack, happens when blood flow to your brain is stopped. It is an emergency situation. 

The brain needs a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients in order to work well. If blood supply is stopped even for a short time, this can cause problems. Brain cells begin to die after just a few minutes without blood or oxygen. 

You can have a stroke at any age, but there are ways to reduce your stroke risk. 

Lifestyle changes

A healthy lifestyle goes a long way toward reducing your risk for various medical conditions, including stroke. Here are some things you can do: 

  • Stop smoking, if you smoke.
  • Make healthy food choices. Be sure to get the recommended amounts of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Choose foods that are low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.
  • Stay at a healthy weight.
  • Be physically active.
  • Limit alcohol use.

Medicines

Talk to your doctor about your stroke risk. If your healthcare team decides your risk is higher than average, there are medicines that can help: 

  • Blood-thinning medicines (anticoagulants) help prevent blood clots from forming. If you take a blood thinner, you may need regular blood tests.
  • Antiplatelets, such as aspirin, are prescribed for many stroke patients. They make blood clots less likely to form. Aspirin is available over the counter.
  • Blood-pressure medicines help lower high blood pressure. You may need to take more than one blood-pressure medicine.
  • Cholesterol-lowering drugs make plaque less likely to build up in your artery walls, which can reduce the risk for stroke.
  • Heart medicines can treat certain heart problems that increase your risk of stroke.
  • Diabetes medicines adjust blood sugar levels. This can prevent problems that lead to stroke.

Get help FAST

The word “FAST” is an easy way to remember the signs of a stroke. When you see these signs, you will know that you need to call 911. FAST stands for:

F - Face drooping. One side of the face is drooping or numb. When the person smiles, the smile is uneven.  A - Arm weakness.  One arm is weak or numb. When the person lifts both arms at the same time, one arm may drift downward.  S - Speech difficulty. You may see slurred speech or difficulty speaking. The person can't repeat a simple sentence correctly when asked.  T - Time to call 911. If someone shows any of these symptoms, call 911 right away. Call even if the symptom goes away. Make note of the time the symptoms first appeared.

 

Symptoms can happen suddenly. If someone is showing any sign of a stroke, call 911 immediately. You have a better chance of recovering from a stroke if emergency treatment is started right away.

LeConte Medical Center is certified by the Joint Commission as an Advanced Primary Stroke CenterWith access to neurologists 24/7 and advanced diagnostics, our emergency department is equipped to quickly assess your condition, and help develop the best treatment plan for you.