Are you at risk for a stroke? No matter what your age or family history, a stroke does not have to happen to you. As with heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases, there are specific risk factors that put you at a higher risk of stroke.
- African American
- Age (older than 55)
- Gender (female)
- Have a family history of stroke
- Have had a previous stroke or transient ischemic attack
- High cholesterol level
- Uncontrolled diabetes
Change the Risk Factors You Can Control
Some risk factors for stroke can’t be changed such as gender, race, age and family history. But other risk factors are in your control, including uncontrolled diabetes, smoking, exercise, your weight and high cholesterol. These can be controlled to lower your risk of stroke. Here’s what you can do:
- Control your blood pressure
- Control your cholesterol levels
- Exercise at a moderate intensity at least five days a week.
- If you are a smoker, stop smoking
- If you have atrial fibrillation, get treated. Untreated atrial fibrillation gives you a five times higher risk of stroke.
- If you have diabetes, control your blood sugar level
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Reduce the amount of alcohol you drink. Studies show drinking more than two drinks per day raises your risk for stroke
Get Regular Medical Checkups
Seeing your doctor regularly is very important in preventing stroke. At your regular checkup, your doctor can help you manage health conditions that increase your risk of stroke. These health conditions can happen to anyone, at any age. Your doctor can monitor your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar to help you keep these numbers at normal levels. Also, if you smoke, your doctor can recommend a stop smoking program and/or prescription medication to help you break the habit.
Know the Stroke Warning Signs
Whether you are 25 or 65, you can decrease the risk of stroke. Be sure you know the stroke warning signs and symptoms. If you have any of these symptoms, call 911 and seek treatment immediately:
- Falling or unstable walking
- Sudden dimness or loss of vision, particularly in one eye
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
- Sudden unexplained dizziness
- Sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm, or leg on one side of your body
- Trouble talking or understanding what others are saying
The sooner you get help for stroke, the more doctors can do to prevent damage to part of your brain.
Source: National Stroke Foundation
Learn more about Stroke and the treatments available at Hawaii’s first certified Comprehensive Stroke Center.