Tips to Avoid a Stroke

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Suffering a stroke is something I wish upon no-one. Today I’d like to talk about some tips and things that we can do to avoid suffering a stroke.

Welcome to the “Senior Circle” where we hope to inspire and help others by providing valuable, relevant information related to caring for an elderly loved one. Hi, my name is Dawn Neely and I’ll be your host. Thank you for joining us.

My father suffered a stroke when he was 58 years old and it completely rocked our world. It was a very challenging thing for him to go through, but we were very blessed that he worked very hard to regain much of what he had lost in terms of his physical and neurological abilities and he was able to recover significantly.

Looking back, one does wonder if there were signs, things that could have been picked up on and whether there were steps that could have been taken to avoid that stroke. Strokes are a leading cause of death and disabilities in the U.S. today. I’d like to share some of the things, that according to well known cardiologists, should be considered in an effort to rein in the risks today that exist, potentially reducing the likelihood of stroke activity.

One thing we can look at is lowering our blood pressure. High blood pressure is a huge factor, doubling or even quadrupling your stroke risk if it’s not controlled. We know that high blood pressure is the biggest contributor to the risk of stroke, and that’s both in men and in women. So one of the biggest differences that a person can make to their vascular health is to monitor their blood pressure, but even more importantly, making sure that it is treated if it’s elevated. Everyone’s a little different, so you should know your baseline. Ideally, some say that blood pressure should be less than 135/85. But for some, a less aggressive goal, such as 140/90, may be more appropriate. Mine personally tends to run low, but I just kinda keep track of it so that when I have to have it taken, I know what to expect and I can share that with the medical professional if I’m asked about it.

So what are some of the things that you can do to lower your blood pressure?

One, you can get that salt in check. It’s suggested that you reduce the salt in your diet to no more than 1,500 milligrams a day, and that’s about a half teaspoon. It really is amazing when you look at ingredients on things, especially processed foods, how much sodium they contain. Avoid high-cholesterol foods, such as burgers, cheese and ice cream.

Try to eat a healthy diet. Be sure to include fruits and vegetables every day and consider having a serving of fish two to three times a week. You’ll also want to include healthy grains in your meal line-up.

This is a big one that requires some commitment, but get more exercise. It doesn’t have to be a gym membership and a goal to lift heavy weights, but move around. Get thirty minutes a day in of walking, swimming or any other activity that gets that heart rate going.

If you smoke, quit. I don’t even think we need to get into this or talk about it. Just please, quit.

And when it comes to blood pressure medication, if they are prescribed, take them as ordered by your physician. At Seniors Helping Seniors, we help many clients with medication management as this is something that can be challenging. Just make sure that you’re following your doctor’s prescription and if it’s easier, use a pill organizer that will help you keep track of each of your dosages.

Another culprit of stroke risk is atrial fibrillation, also known as AFib.  AFib is a form of an irregular heartbeat that causes clots to form in the heart. Those clots can then travel to the brain, producing a stroke. AFib is believed to carry almost a fivefold risk of stroke and really should be taken seriously. If you have AFib, your goal really needs to be to get that treated.

Two things you’ll want to think about is if you have symptoms, such as heart palpitations or shortness of breath, see your doctor for an exam. You may need to take a blood thinner, such as warfarin, which is Coumadin, or one of the newer direct-acting anticoagulant drugs to reduce stroke risk from atrial fibrillation. Your doctors can guide you through this treatment and staying on top of the situation will help you significantly avoid experiencing a stroke.

Finally, make sure that your physician is monitoring your blood work for your blood sugar levels. Diabetes is a serious condition that needs to be monitored Having high blood sugar damages blood vessels over time, making clots more likely to form inside of them. If you’re experiencing issues with your blood sugar, be sure to follow your physician’s instructions very closely and follow a diet that’s specifically focused on lowering your sugar levels. To get a little technical, they say you should eat at least 14 grams of fiber daily for every 1,000 calories consumed and to keep your cholesterol down to 300 milligrams a day.

In part two of this series on strokes, we’ll discuss further things that can be done to prevent strokes, and in the meantime, if you have any questions, please feel free to give Seniors Helping Seniors a call at the number on the screen at the end of this video. Thank you for joining us today, till next time.

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