A stroke is caused by a blood clot or a blood vessel leak in the brain. When the brain stops receiving a steady blood flow, it stops working. There are three main types of stroke: ischemic, hemorrhagic, and TIA (mini stroke).
Risk factors that increase a person’s odds of experiencing a brain attack include older age, gender, race, family history of stroke, and a personal history of stroke. Lifestyle habits, too, play a large role in stroke. That is why it is important to live a healthy lifestyle as much as possible to reduce your risk of a brain attack.
If stroke is not treated immediately, the patient runs the risk of death, as time passes and the brain is not receiving oxygen. Other complications of stroke that are lifelong include paralysis or loss of certain muscle movements, difficulty talking or swallowing, memory loss or thinking difficulties, emotional problems and depression, pain, and changes in behavior and self-care ability.
Below you will find a list of prevention tips to help reduce your risk of stroke and the associated complication.
When it comes to stroke prevention, quitting smoking and avoiding second-hand smoke should be your top priority. This is so important because smoking doubles your risk for having a stroke and substantially increases your risk for fatal heart problems such as coronary heart disease. The good news is, it’s never too late to quit. According to The National Stroke Association, a person’s stroke risk is greatly reduced no matter how old they are when they decide to quit smoking.
Reduce alcohol consumption
Although there is some evidence that moderate alcohol consumption can lower heart disease and stroke risk, any potential benefits are negated when you drink too much. Males should not drink more than three alcoholic beverages per day and females should drink no more than two. Any more than that and you increase your heart attack and stroke risk.
Stress can increase blood pressure and cholesterol levels – both of which increase the risk of stroke. Even more problematic is the fact that stress can make you more prone to developing atherosclerosis (a condition characterized by narrowing of the arteries), and approximately 80 percent of all strokes are caused by atherosclerosis. Some good ways to reduce stress include sharing your feelings, being more assertive, learning to say no, taking time to laugh, giving yourself some alone time every day, treating yourself to vacations, keeping a journal, taking a bath, meditating, exercising, and doing something that makes you laugh.
Be more physically active
Exercise is an essential part of the stroke prevention recipe because it helps lower high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, prevent diabetes, and reduce stress – all of which are risk factors for heart attack and stroke. Perhaps even more important is the fact that exercise helps you to obtain and/or maintain a healthy body weight, which vastly reduces your stroke risk.
Avoid junk food
Consuming a healthy diet is arguably the most important thing you can do when it comes to stroke prevention. A healthy diet reduces the same heart attack and stroke risk factors as exercising, but its effects are even more profound. To reduce your stroke risk, start by eliminating or vastly reducing your intake of refined and packaged foods, and base you diet on whole, unprocessed foods instead.
Foods and beverages to consume in your stroke prevention diet include black or green tea and fruits and vegetables like pomegranates, which are high in antioxidants.
Manage other conditions
If you have high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, or other conditions, these can all contribute to a higher stroke risk. It is highly important that you manage any other coexisting conditions in order to further reduce your risk of stroke. The good news is, many of these conditions share similar lifestyle factors pertaining to overall healthy living. Exercising, eating well, not smoking, and reducing stress can all work to control other health conditions along with reducing your risk of stroke.
Other treatments for stroke
An ischemic stroke must be treated immediately to restore blood flow to the brain. This can be done by taking aspirin or getting an intravenous injection of tissue plasminogen activator. This reduces the likelihood of an additional stroke, restores blood flow, and dissolves the blood clot.
Emergency procedures include giving medication directly to the brain and performing a mechanical clot removal. Other procedures for ischemic stroke treatment include carotid endarterectomy, angioplasty, and stents.
Treatment options for a hemorrhagic stroke include taking warfarin to thin the blood and other medications to prevent blood clots, as well as surgical vessel repair.
Recovery after stroke can be a long process, depending on what has been affected. It may include speech therapy, physical therapy, and working alongside an occupational prevent stroketherapist to help you manage through daily life.