Most Strokes Are Preventable. Here’s What You Need to Know — and Do

There are few conditions as frightening as strokes. After all, they involve disrupted blood flow in parts of the brain, making them a significant cause of death and long-term disability. They also affect almost 800,000 people each year, or approximately one person every 40 seconds.

Despite these alarming statistics, there’s also good news: Over 80% of strokes are preventable.

At Integrated Neurology Services, our team specializes in treating neurological conditions, including strokes. In this blog, learn about the important steps you can take to prevent most strokes and how you can take action to save someone’s life.

How to prevent strokes

There are a lot of things you can’t control when it comes to your personal risk for certain health problems, including stroke — mainly, your age and family history of a condition. However, there are several risk factors you do have control over if you want to avoid this problem.

1. Watch your blood pressure

Blood pressure plays a crucial factor in stroke risk. In fact, hypertension can double or even quadruple your chances of having an event.

But you can do something about it. Learn your numbers, and work with your doctor to get them within a healthy range — less than 120/80.

2. Lose extra weight

Another common problem that increases your risk of stroke and high blood pressure is weight. But losing even 10 pounds can significantly reduce your stroke risk.

Whether you have a few pounds to lose or several, shedding the extra weight can offer lifesaving results. If you have struggled to lose weight in the past, a medically supervised weight loss program could help you drop the extra pounds and keep them off.

3. Move your body

You know you should exercise more. Did you realize exercising offers numerous benefits for stroke reduction?

Getting enough physical activity can help with weight management, and you already know being overweight is a stroke risk. But that’s only the beginning.

Regular exercise also helps:

Plus, it keeps your heart healthy and functioning in peak condition to ensure optimal blood circulation.

4. Drink in moderation — or not at all

If you enjoy having a drink occasionally or even daily, it’s likely not a huge problem. However, if you indulge in two or more alcoholic beverages daily, you could be increasing your risk of stroke.

Studies show that alcohol can interfere with blood coagulation and also contribute to other issues that increase the risk of stroke, like atrial fibrillation.

However, evidence also shows that small amounts of alcohol can raise good cholesterol, which is associated with less stroke risk.

To play it safe, have no more than a single serving each day and consider making red wine your drink of choice — a beverage that may play a role in preventing heart disease and stroke. 

5. Treat underlying conditions

Address any health issues that put your heart or lead vessels at risk, especially diabetes and atrial fibrillation. Both of these conditions significantly increase your chance of experiencing a stroke, so work closely with your doctor to ensure you keep them effectively managed.

Additionally, it’s essential to quit smoking if you haven’t. Smoking speeds up clot formation because it increases plaque buildup in the arteries and thickens the blood.

How to save someone’s life — including your own

A stroke can still happen despite your best efforts. Unfortunately, people often ignore the signs, which can lose crucial minutes when quick intervention is key.

Learning to recognize a stroke can ensure you get help FAST — and that word is all you need to remember to save lives. FAST stands for:

The sooner a person receives treatment during a stroke the better the outcome. If you aren’t sure someone is having a stroke, play it safe and seek medical treatment.

If you or someone you love experiences a stroke, the Integrated Neurology Services team can evaluate the situation and develop a personalized treatment strategy.

To learn more about our comprehensive stroke rehabilitation, make an appointment with Integrated Neurology Services at any of our Northern Virginia locations by calling 703-313-9111 or by contacting us online.

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