Showing posts with label causes of strokes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label causes of strokes. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Most Strokes can be Prevented

Strokes are one of the health issues that people fear the most as they age.  Recently, researchers discovered that 90 percent of strokes are preventable!  They learned this by analyzing 27,000 people from every continent on earth.  While there were some regional variations which determined what factors were most important in causing strokes, the list of health issues that contribute to them was surprisingly consistent ... and preventable.

How the Research was Conducted

The study was headed up by Dr. Martin O'Donnell and Professor Salim Yusef of McMaster University.  They were supported by collaborators from 32 countries.  Their study built on the INTERSTROKE study which originally discovered the ten most important risk factors for strokes, based on 6,000 participants who were in 22 different countries.  As mentioned above, O'Donnell and Yusef expanded the research to include 27,000 people from around the world.

What are the Risk Factors for Strokes?

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, was the most important factor in determining stroke risk.  That was true in every region.

However, the researchers came up with a PAR percentage (Population Attributable Risk) for each risk factor that contributed to strokes.  Many of the risk factors are associated with each other, such as obesity and diabetes.  When the PAR numbers were combined, it showed that controlling these risk factors could eliminate 90.7 percent of all strokes.  This was true in all regions of world, in all age groups, and for both men and women.

The Overall PAR Percentages

Hypertension - 47.9
Physical Inactivity - 35.8
Lipids (cholesterol, triglycerides, etc.) - 26.8
Poor diet - 23.2
Obesity - 18.6
Smoking - 12.4
Cardiac problems (including atrial fibrillation) - 9.1
Alcohol intake - 5.8
Stress - 5.8
Diabetes - 3.9

Conclusions from this Study

Professor Valery L. Feigin and Dr. Rita Kishnamurthi, who are with the National Institute for Stroke and Applied Neurosciences, added their own comment to the study.  In it they said, in part, "stroke is a highly preventable disease globally, irrespective of age and sex."

How to Apply this Information to Your Life

Now that scientists have confirmed that over 90 percent of strokes are preventable, individuals can work with their doctors to take action and prevent it.  You can use the list above to determine which areas of your life are most in need of change ... high blood pressure, lack of exercise, high cholesterol and triglycerides, a poor diet, being over-weight, smoking, cardiac problems, excessive alcohol use, stress and diabetes.

The sooner you address any of these issues in your personal life, the less likely you are to ever experience a stroke.

As always, be sure you discuss your health issues with your doctor.  Only they can prescribe medications which could help you control your blood pressure, cholesterol or diabetes.  Working closely with your physician and following their advice are the best ways to prevent strokes.

If you are interested in learning more about common health issues as you age, financial planning, where to retire, Social Security, Medicare and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional, helpful articles.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Strokes Cause Death and Disability

While most people are more concerned about heart disease and cancer, strokes are also a risk that you should take seriously, especially if you have high blood pressure.  Because many people do not feel ill prior to their stroke, it is often called the silent killer.  It can strike you down anywhere ... while driving a car, taking a walk or puttering around your house.

A stroke happens when the blood supply to your brain is interrupted.  This damages the brain cells in the portion of the brain that is deprived of oxygen.  Nerve cells can begin to die within minutes.  Usually this happens because a blood clot blocks a blood vessel in the neck or brain.

About 800,000 people experience strokes in the United States every year; sadly, about 80% of them are considered preventable.

Symptoms of a Stroke

How can you tell if someone is having a stroke?  Experts suggest that you think of the word FAST.  The letters stand for:

F - Face Drooping
A - Arm Weakness
S - Speech Difficulty
T - Time to Call 9-1-1

It is extremely important that you get to a hospital immediately if you suspect that you or someone you know is having a stroke.  There are treatments that can often keep you from having permanent damage as a result of a stroke, but they only work if administered within the first three hours.  Since it takes a little time to diagnose the stroke and set up the treatment, you should try to get the patient to the hospital within the first hour or two.

Stroke Risk Factors

Below are the risk factors that make you more likely to have a stroke.  Fortunately, some of these are the result of lifestyle choices you can change.  Other risk factors can be controlled with medication.  If you want to live a long, healthy life, then you need to take immediate steps to reduce your risk factors wherever possible.

*  High blood pressure is the most significant cause of strokes.  If you consistently have a blood pressure reading of above 140/90 then you are at an increased risk.

*  If you have had a prior stroke, you are at greater risk of another one.

*  Family history of a stroke also increases your risk.

*  Diabetes

*  Heart disease, including atrial fibrillation

*  Obesity and a sedentary lifestyle

*  High cholesterol

*  Smoking

*  Alcohol and/or drug abuse

*   Aging -- the one factor that affects all of us


"Strokes: Know Your Risks," Answers Magazine, 2015, pg. 54

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Cut Your Stroke Risk Now!

Baby Boomers are starting to reach the age when they are at a higher risk for strokes.  In fact, having a stroke is the fourth leading cause of death and it is the number one cause of disabilities.  Anyone can have a stroke at almost any age.  However, once you reach the age of 55 your risk doubles ... and this year the last of the Baby Boomers are reaching the age of 50!  (Yes, nearly all the Baby Boomers are now considered senior citizens.)

What is a Stroke?

A stroke happens when a blood vessel leading to the brain either becomes blocked or it bursts.  When this happens, the brain cells begin to die.  Patients need to be treated quickly or they can die or become seriously disabled.

Symptoms of a Stroke

If you suspect that you or someone you know is having a stroke, here is a quick way to check.  Ask the person to smile, speak or raise their hands above their head.  If their smile is uneven, their words or slurred, or they cannot raise both hands above their head, call an ambulance or rush them to the hospital immediately.

Other symptoms include trouble walking, difficulty speaking or understanding what is being said to them, paralysis or numbness in the face, leg or arm, trouble seeing in either one or both of your eyes, or a severe headache, often with dizziness or vomiting.

Treatment for Strokes

If you suspect that someone is having a stroke, it is important that you get to the hospital quickly.  If you arrive in time, they will administer a clot-busting intravenous medication called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA).  It is essential that this drug be given within three hours after the symptoms of a stroke first become visible.  When tPA is given quickly enough, one out of three patients will see major improvement and, in come cases, the symptoms are completely eliminated.

Unfortunately, only about 10% of patients receive tPA because they arrive to late for it to help, or because they are on blood thinners or they have had recent surgery.  In those cases, a device may be inserted into an artery in the groin and snaked up to the brain in order to remove a clot or stop the bleeding in the brain.

A stroke kills about 2 million brain cells a minute, so it is extremely important that action is taken quickly..

How to Prevent a Stroke

Once you understand the risks of a stroke, you can easily understand how important it is to do everything you can to protect yourself.  Fortunately, there are steps you can take that will dramatically reduce your chances of experiencing a stroke:

Keep your blood pressure under control.  Take medication, if necessary.

Keep your cholesterol levels low.  Use medication if you cannot lower it through food and exercise.

If you are diabetic or pre-diabetic, manage your blood sugar levels carefully.

If you are overweight, lose as much of it as possible.  This will also make it easier to deal with your blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes.

Get exercise.  It will help with your weight.  In addition, physical inactivity is considered a risk factor for strokes.

Limit your consumption of alcohol.  No more than two modest sized alcoholic drinks a day for men, and no more than one for women.

DO NOT SMOKE.  There is a high correlation between smoking and your risk of stroke.

Atrial fibrillation ... if you have a heart rhythm disorder, work with your doctor to come up with a strategy to treat it.

More Risk Factors

Your risk of having a stroke doubles EVERY TEN YEARS after the age of 55.

African-Americans are at a higher risk

You have an increased risk if you have is a family history of strokes or if you have ever had a stroke or heart attack.


"Saddleback Adds Advanced Stroke Care,"  Laguna Woods Globe, Orange County Register, November 21, 2013.

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