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The StrokeCareNow Network | Causes and Prevention

Smoking: smokers are three to five times more likely to have a heart attack than non-smokers. A chronic disease is a long-lasting condition that can be controlled but not cured; it affects the population worldwide, and in the U.S., it is considered the leading cause of death and disability. The use of oral contraceptives, combined with cigarette smoking, greatly increases stroke risk. Tobacco smoke: Smokers’ risk of heart attack is more than twice that of nonsmokers’. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Following a stroke, patients undergo an assessment to minimize risk factors and hopefully decrease the risk of a second stroke. Not sure where to start?

When a man is older than 45, he has the age risk factor. The American Heart Association (AHA) states that more than 83 percent of people who die of coronary heart disease are 65 or older. In some cases, the causes of atrial fibrillation are a heart abnormality from birth or damage to the heart structure from a heart attack or heart valve problem. The wet version differs from the dry form in that it moves more quickly and occurs when abnormal blood vessels form under the macula. As the non-digestible part of plant foods, fiber keeps food moving along the digestive track; it delays sugar absorption, helping to better control blood sugar levels. Unhealthy diet. That is why regular medical checkups are so important to help detect this disease.

Pignone M, Alberts MJ, Colwell JA, et al; American Diabetes Association; American Heart Association; American College of Cardiology Foundation. A healthy lifestyle can prevent or delay the onset of diabetes, and its promotion is particularly effective when targeted to children, pregnant women, and other vulnerable groups. High blood pressure – High blood pressure or hypertension is the number one cause of stroke. Figure 2 describes the relationship between the natural history of cardiovascular diseases and lifestyle and biochemical/physiological characteristics considered to be risk factors for these diseases, as well as subclinical disease markers. In someone who has had heart damage, the electrical signals that keep the heart beating change as they pass through damaged tissue. A pre-diabetic person’s blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not yet as high as is necessary for a diagnosis of diabetes. Cigarette smoking – Tobacco use in any form, especially cigarette smoking, is very bad for your health.

In recent years, studies have shown cigarette smoking to be an important risk factor for stroke. HDL (known as the good cholesterol) optimal levels should be above 40. Unhealthy diet: Diet that lacks important ingredients such as proteins, fats, minerals, vitamins and carbohydrates can lead to decreased immunity. If you have any of these conditions along with your atrial fibrillation, talk to your doctor about how you can manage them. Many people with diabetes also have high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and are overweight. Weight reduction can be achieved with modifications to diet and increased physical activity. While diabetes is treatable, the presence of the disease still increases your risk of stroke.

Diabetes causes disease of small blood vessels in the brain and can lead to a stroke. Influenza (including avian and swine influenza). A carotid artery narrowed by fatty deposits from atherosclerosis (plaque build-ups in artery walls) may become blocked by a blood clot. Carotid artery disease is also called carotid artery stenosis. Peripheral artery disease is the narrowing of blood vessels carrying blood to leg and arm muscles. It’s caused by fatty build-ups of plaque in artery walls. People with peripheral artery disease have a higher risk of carotid artery disease, which raises their risk of stroke.

Commit yourself to a diligent screening regimen. Atrial fibrillation – This heart rhythm disorder raises the risk for stroke. 10. If a clot breaks off, enters the bloodstream and lodges in an artery leading to the brain, a stroke results. Other heart disease – People with coronary heart disease or heart failure have a higher risk of stroke than those with hearts that work normally. Dilated cardiomyopathy (an enlarged heart), heart valve disease and some types of congenital heart defects also raise the risk of stroke. Smoking is the top risk factor for lung cancer.

“Sickle-shaped” red blood cells are less able to carry oxygen to the body’s tissues and organs. These cells also tend to stick to blood vessel walls, which can block arteries to the brain and cause a stroke. High blood cholesterol – People with high blood cholesterol have an increased risk for stroke. High blood cholesterol can be reduced by eating right (avoid fried, fatty foods) and exercising routinely. It may also require medication. Poor diet – Diets high in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol can raise blood cholesterol levels. Diets high in sodium (salt) can contribute to increased blood pressure.

Diets with excess calories can contribute to obesity. A diet containing five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day may reduce the risk of stroke. Stroke is an attack on the brain, and time is brain. So go on a brisk walk, take the stairs, and do whatever you can to make your life more active. Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five days of the week, or 20 minutes of vigorous physical activity, three days a week, with your doctor’s approval. Prevention The National Stroke Association’s Stroke Prevention Guidelines Know your blood pressure: have it checked at least annually. If it is elevated, work with your doctor to keep it under control.

High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke. Heart muscle in a well-conditioned person does not have to work as hard to circulate blood and nourish the body. Find out if you have atrial fibrillation:   Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heartbeat that changes how your heart works and allows blood to collect in the chambers of your heart. This blood which is not moving through your body, tends to clot and the beating of your heart can move one of these blood clots into your blood stream and ultimately into your brain, causing a stroke. Your doctor can determine if you have atrial fibrillation by taking your pulse. He would order a test called an EKG to confirm it. If AF is diagnosed, your doctor may choose to lower your risk for stroke by prescribing medicines called blood thinners.

Aspirin and warfarin (Coumadin) are the most commonly prescribed treatments. If you smoke, STOP:  Smoking doubles the risk for stroke. If you stop smoking today, your risk for stroke will immediately begin to drop. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation:   Studies now show that drinking up to two alcoholic drinks per day can reduce your risk for stroke by about half. More alcohol than this can increase your risk for stroke by as much as three times and can lead to other health problems. Know your cholesterol number:  if your total cholesterol level (LDL plus HDL) is over 200 talk to your doctor, you may be at increased risk for stroke. High cholesterol can be controlled with diet and exercise or may require medicine prescribed by the doctor.

If you are a diabetic:  follow your doctor’s advice carefully to control your diabetes. Check your blood sugar regularly- according to your doctor’s advice and know your hemoglobin a1c- which is a blood test taken in your doctor’s office that measures how you have been doing with your blood sugar control for the last 2 – 3 months. The goal of a diabetic is to keep this number at less than 7%. Exercise:  include exercise in your daily activities. A brisk walk for as little as 30 minutes a day can improve your health in many ways, and may reduce your risk of stroke. Enjoy a lower sodium (salt), lower fat diet:   By cutting down on sodium and fat in your diet, you may be able to lower your blood pressure and most importantly, lower your risk for stroke. Adding fiber such as whole grain bread and cereal products, raw unpeeled fruits and vegetables and dried beans to the diet can reduce cholesterol levels, also reducing your risk of stroke.

Circulation problems:  Ask your doctor if you have circulation problems (movement of the blood through the heart and blood vessels) which increase your risk for stroke. These can usually be treated with medicines. If the doctor prescribes medications for circulation problems, it is important to take it exactly as prescribed. Symptoms:  If you have any stroke symptoms, seek immediate medical attention!

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