Stroke is Preventable
Special Feature by Bret A. Witter, MD, FACC FACP
A stroke is a common and feared medical problem. Many people are more afraid of stroke than death. Perhaps you know of someone who has recently experienced a stroke. This is a motivating factor for many patients to get educated regarding stroke prevention. Fortunately, many strokes are preventable. Strokes are generally caused by a blocked artery, bleeding in the head or from a blood clot from the neck or heart.
Many simple lifestyle changes can help prevent stroke — especially blocked artery / bleeding related strokes. For example, regular exercise, low sodium / low fat diets, and smoking cessation are very effective.
Blood pressure control is very important. Guidelines suggest blood pressure should be less than 140 / 90 at rest most of the time or even lower (130 / 80) if you have higher risk features including diabetes. Many times, hypertension is unavoidable if you have a strong family history. More commonly, the disease is evident or accelerated by overweight status and high salt intake.
High cholesterol also has an impact on stroke incidence. Again, there is a strong family component for many people. Diet still plays a strong role.
Obesity is epidemic in America. Blood pressure, cholesterol status and being overweight are strongly impacted by diet. Shifting to a diet that is lower in sodium and fat can control these risk factors without medication. For those who still have problems, there are many medications that are effective with minimal side effects.
Atrial fibrillation (irregular heart beats) is associated with stroke. When the heart is beating erratically, blood clots can form and break off / travel to the head. This is especially important to people older than 75 years of age. Risk factors for this include excessive alcohol, caffeine intake and sleep apnea.
Stroke is now treated as an emergency. In an effort to be more responsive and timely many hospitals have established stroke centers so that treatment can be administrated within the first three hours following an event. The symptoms of stroke include weakness or numbness on one side of the body, or a sudden change in speech or comprehension. These symptoms should be treated as an emergency. Call 911 if you or someone you know experience these symptoms.
Stroke does not have to be as common or as feared as in years past. Simple lifestyle changes, basic health care and sometimes medications can help make a stroke preventable. Being aware of early signs and symptoms of stroke can also lead to early treatment / less disability in the event of a stroke.
Get more details and make a difference during National Stroke Awareness Month by visiting: www.stroke.org
This article was written by Bret A. Witter, MD, FACC, FACP. Dr. Witter is board certified in Internal Medicine, Cardiovascular Diseases and Cardiac Echocardiography. In addition to his full-time duties as a cardiologist and partner at Los Alamitos Cardiovascular, Dr. Witter is Assistant Clinical Professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Learn more about Dr. Witter.
Brain Attack: A Stroke Survival Guide
Watch this 30-minute clip of the popular “Brain Attack” show created for network TV by National Stroke Association in partnership with NBC Universal and Al Roker Productions. National Stroke Association is making this 30-minute video available for educational use only and to help promote raising stroke awareness across the country.
Stroke Signs and Symptoms Infographic
More information on stroke
Outbound website links.
National Stroke Association / National Stroke Association's mission is to reduce the incidence and impact of stroke by developing compelling education and programs focused on prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and support for all impacted by stroke.
Stroke Association / Our mission is to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. That single purpose drives all we do. The need for our work is beyond question.
American Stroke Foundation / To empower stroke survivors and their families to overcome ongoing challenges of life after stroke and rejuvenate their lives.| website
The Brain Attack Coalition (BAC) / The Brain Attack Coalition is a group of professional, voluntary, and governmental entities dedicated to reducing the occurrence, disabilities, and death associated with stroke. The goal of the Coalition is to strengthen and promote the relationships among its member organizations in order to help people who have had a stroke or are at risk for a stroke.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention / CDC's Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention works to improve cardiovascular health through public health strategies and policies that promote healthy lifestyles and behaviors, health environments and communities, and access to early and affordable detection and treatment.
The Hazel K. Goddess Fund for Stroke Research in Women / The Goddess Fund was created with one clear and compelling goal: to eliminate the impact of stroke in women's lives, the lives of their families, and society at large.
National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) Stroke Information Page / The mission of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke is to reduce the burden of neurological disease—a burden borne by every age group, by every segment of society, by people all over the world.
Learn More About the Act F.A.S.T. (Face, Arms, Speech, Time) Awareness Campaign on Facebook