Stroke Prevention Tips

Many strokes are avoidable

Stroke skull imageStroke is now the 4th leading cause of death and the leading cause of disability in America with more than 800,000 people suffering a stroke every year. Because I’m a stroke neurologist, many people ask me how to prevent stroke.

Best stroke prevention

The best advice is:

  • Maintain good blood pressure (probably the most powerful way to prevent stroke)
  • Control other vascular conditions such as diabetes and high cholesterol
  • Stop smoking
  • Avoid second-hand smoke
  • Exercise
  • Eat well
  • Don’t consume too much alcohol

In some types of stroke, family history plays a role; unfortunately, that is one influence that patients cannot control.  Continue reading

Know the signs of stroke

Quick action leads to better recovery outcomes

time is iimportant in responding to the signs of stroke

Brain damage can begin within minutes, so it’s important to know the warning signs of stroke.

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain is blocked or bursts. Without oxygen from the blood, that part of the brain starts to die. The part of the body controlled by the damaged area of the brain then stops working properly.

Brain damage can begin within minutes of experiencing a stroke, so it is important to know the symptoms and signs of stroke and to seek immediate treatment by calling 911.

Warning signs of stroke

Common stroke symptoms experienced by both men and women include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, particularly on one side of the body.
  • Sudden trouble speaking or understanding.
  • Sudden trouble walking or difficulty with balance or coordination or dizziness.
  • Sudden difficulty seeing or double vision.
  • Sudden severe headache or neck pain.

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What are the signs of a stroke?

Acting quickly is a key to recovery

stopwatch-strokeA stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain is blocked or bursts. Without oxygen from the blood, that part of the brain starts to die. The part of the body controlled by the damaged area of the brain then stops working properly.

According to Dr. Eric Adelman, assistant professor of neurology at the University of Michigan, brain damage can begin within minutes of experiencing a stroke, so it is important to know the symptoms of stroke and to seek immediate treatment.

Call 911 immediately if you suspect stroke

“If you or someone you know is having a stroke, the first thing to do is to call 911,” Dr. Adelman says. The longer a stroke goes untreated, the greater the potential for brain damage and disability. “If a stroke patient is given clot-busting medication, called tPA, within 4.5 hours, their chances for recovery increase.”

Although the majority of a stroke patient’s recovery happens within the first year, “With intense rehabilitation, a patient may continue to recover after the first year,” says Dr. Adelman. Younger individuals who suffer a stroke tend to have better recovery results.

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Preventing stroke

Lifestyle changes that can help

vegetables and shrimp in bowl

Eating healthy food is one way to help prevent stroke

Making changes in your lifestyle today can help reduce your chances of experiencing future health issues, such as stroke. For example, “Blood pressure is one of the biggest modifiable risk factors in connection with stroke,” says Dr. Eric Adelman, assistant professor of neurology at the University of Michigan. And there are other lifestyle changes that can help in preventing stroke and improve your overall health:

  • Manage diabetes. Keep your blood sugar levels within a target range.
  • Take aspirin or a blood thinner if recommended by your doctor.
  • Take your medicine exactly as prescribed.
  • Do not smoke or allow others to smoke around you.
  • Limit alcohol to two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Raise your heart rate by getting at least 30 minutes of exercise (walking, swimming, cycling, etc.) on most days of the week.
  • Eat a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in cholesterol, saturated fats and salt.

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University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center Logo - blueThe University of Michigan Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center is the top-ranked heart and heart surgery program among Michigan hospitals. To learn more, visit the Heart and Vascular page on UofMHealth.org.