Friday, March 6, 2015

Stroke Prevention: Reduce Your Risk With Diet and Exercise

Stroke occurs when a clot or rupture of the arteries leading to and within the brain happens. When a stroke happens, one of the hemispheres of the brain doesn’t receive oxygenated blood as needed and the brain cells die. An ischemic stroke is normally caused by a clot that obstructs the flow of blood. A hemorrhagic stroke is caused by the rupturing of the blood vessel, preventing blood flow to the brain. Without oxygen flowing properly, the brain cannot send out controls to various other body parts to function. There are many risk factors that can cause stroke including:

  • Age- the chances of having a stroke doubles for each decade of life after age 55.
  • Heredity- your stroke risk may be greater if a parent, grandparent, sister or brother has had a stroke. Some strokes may be symptoms of genetic disorders.
  • Race- African Americans have a much higher risk of death from a stroke than Caucasians do. This is partly because African Americans have a higher risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.
  • Gender- each year, women have more strokes than men. The use of birth control pills, pregnancy, history of preeclampsia/eclampsia or gestational diabetes, smoking, and post-menopausal hormone therapy may pose special stroke risks for women.


While these risk factors are uncontrollable and irreversible, there are factors that can be treated and controlled. Through exercise and diet, you can lower your risk of stroke significantly. When finding an exercise and diet program, think of specific factors that will help with:

  • High blood pressure- the leading cause of stroke and the most important controllable risk factor for stroke. Many people believe the effective treatment of high blood pressure is a key reason for the accelerated decline in the death rates for stroke.
  • Diabetes- an independent risk factor for stroke.  Many people with diabetes also have high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and are overweight. This increases their risk even more. While diabetes is treatable, the presence of the disease still increases your risk of stroke.
  • Atrial fibrillation- heart rhythm disorder that raises the risk for stroke. The heart's upper chambers quiver instead of beating effectively, which can let the blood pool and clot. If a clot breaks off, enters the bloodstream and lodges in an artery leading to the brain, a stroke results.


Also, pick a diet low in saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol that can increase blood cholesterol levels. By making sure you eat a balanced diet daily, with fruits, vegetables, grains, lean meats, and low sodium you can greatly determine your risk of experiencing a stroke. While diet is important, the best way to stay heart healthy is to be active. Walking, taking the stairs, and lifting weights can all boost your cardiovascular health and endurance. Just 30 minutes of exercise each day and a healthy diet, along with moderate alcohol consumption and not smoking, can reduce your risk of stroke by 80 percent. It’s important to abide by these health standards so that you may live a long, fulfilling, stroke-free life.


References


Lifestyle Risk Factors. (2014, August 4). Retrieved March 1, 2015, from http://www.stroke.org/understand-stroke/preventing-stroke/lifestyle-risk-factors


Preventing Stroke: Healthy Living. (2014, March 17). Retrieved March 1, 2015, from http://www.cdc.gov/stroke/healthy_living.htm

Heart Healthy Diet Tips. (2013, January 1). Retrieved March 1, 2015, from http://www.helpguide.org/articles/diet-weight-loss/heart-healthy-diet-tips.htm

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