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Top five tips to manage and prevent stroke

by , 11 March 2016

Strokes can happen to anyone. They happen when a blood vessel or artery clogs, cutting off the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the brain, or when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures, causing bleeding.

The best place to go if you suspect you're having a stroke is your nearest hospital emergency department. The ambulance crew who escorts you there is trained to begin immediate treatment.

The window of opportunity to successfully treat a stroke is short — just a couple of hours — and every minute counts.

Time lost is brain lost from the onset of a person's symptoms, and there's a critical window of time where treatment results in the best outcomes.

Five ways to deal with and help prevent having a stroke

#1: Keep the acronym "FAST" in mind
Keep this acronym in mind if you think you or someone you know is having a stroke. It stands for:
  • F = Face. Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop? 
  • A = Arm. Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward? 
  • S = Speech. Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Does the speech sound slurred or strange? 
  • T = Time. If you observe any of these signs, call the ambulance immediately.
 
#2: Check your blood pressure levels
Blood pressure is the single most important risk factor for a stroke. A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control found that nearly one in three American adults have hypertension, and more than half of the 36 million who have hypertension don’t have it under control. Even mild hypertension increases stroke risk, if inadequately treated. Make sure to check your blood pressure regularly.
 
#3: Monitor your diet and watch your weight
Make healthy decisions. Choose heart-healthy fats like fish and nuts, avoid processed foods with little nutritional value or high sodium and fat content, and try to consume foods throughout the day that will keep your energy up and your belly full. In addition to this, be sure exercise! Working out increases your circulation and helps you burn off any extra calories you might have indulged in that day. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise at least four times a week.
 
#4: Don’t start a daily aspirin therapy on your own
Many of us have heard about the potential benefits of taking an aspirin daily, but check with your doctor before you start that routine. Aspirin thins your blood, but it could also have negative effects on your liver and stomach lining.
 
#5: Stop smoking
There are literally hundreds of reasons to quit smoking, and preventing a stroke is yet another one. Smoking causes plaque buildup in your arteries, it damages your blood vessels and it increases your blood pressure — all factors that could potentially contribute to a stroke.

PS: Go here to learn about the simple diet changes you can make to help stave off heart disease.

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