A stroke is a medical emergency and the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. A stroke happens when blood flow to your brain is obstructed—either entirely stopped or greatly reduced. This slows or stops the flow of oxygen the brain needs to function properly.
It is very serious, but hope is not lost! You can take control of your health by being aware of your risk and knowing what to do if a stroke occurs.
What’s my risk of having a stroke?First, be aware that there are risk factors of a stroke that you can’t change, but that you should still know in case they apply to you. According to the American Stroke Association and the Mayo Clinic, these include:
There are some risk factors that you can control, change or seek treatment for, according to the American Heart Association and the National Stroke Association:
Now that I know my stroke risk, what can I do to lower it?If you’re concerned that you have a lot of risk factors for stroke, now is a great time to get your body moving. One immediate action that can positively affect not only your stroke risk but also your blood pressure, weight, poor cholesterol levels and heart disease risk is exercise – specifically, walking: it’s a great exersice for all ages and fitness levels!
According to a study published in the journal Stroke, frequent walking may reduce your risk of having a stroke. The study tracked men ages 60-79 over 11 years. Among men who walked an hour or two per day, the risk of having a stroke was cut by 1/3. For those who walked three or more hours daily, stroke risk was slashed by two-thirds. Although that may sound like a lot of time, it included any walking from a fast walk around the block to a slow stroll through the aisles of a store; what’s more, you don’t have to do all of your physical activity at the same time. According to the American Heart Association, you’ll get the same benefits if you divide your exercise time into smaller 10- to 15-minute chunks each day.
Before making any big changes to your diet or exercise routine, make sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will have additional information to help you control your risk for a stroke.
How to act FAST in the event of a strokeFinally, because a stroke is an emergency, it’s important to act FAST if you notice the signs of a stroke in yourself or others. Learn those signs in the video and be prepared to call 911.
Sources: American Stroke Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mayo Clinic, American Heart Association
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