A stroke happens when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain is blocked by a clot either ischemic (blockage) or bursts (hemorrhagic). As a result, brain cells die.
Here are several scary statistics about stroke and its impact:
- Almost 800,000 people in the United States suffer a stroke every year, with about three in four being the first-time.
- It is the No. 5 cause of death in the United States, killing nearly 130,000 people a year. That’s one in every 20 deaths.
- Someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds.
- Every four minutes, someone dies of stroke.
- It is a leading cause of long-term disability and the leading preventable cause of disability.
- More women than men have strokes each year, in part because women live longer.
- Estimates of the overall annual incidence in US children are 6.4 per 100,000 children (0 to 15 years), with approximately half being hemorrhagic.
- 87% are classified as ischemic. This occurs when a clot or a mass blocks a blood vessel, and cuts off blood flow to a part of the brain.
- African-Americans are more impacted by this disease than any other racial group within the American population.
Stroke Prevention Measures
Control Your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure doubles or quadruples your risk. Your blood pressure should be around 120 over 80. However, if your blood pressure is higher, consider changing your diet, exercising, and taking medication.
You should set up an exercise program that gets you working out 5 days a week at 30 minutes each day.
Stress increases inflammation and has been linked to stroke. Most of all, maintain a nutrition program, exercise, and maintain a calm environment.
Obesity has been linked as a significant cause for stroke. Hence, you need to lose at least 10 pounds, exercise, and eat less than 2000 calories a day.
Stroke and Cholesterol Level
High levels of LDL cholesterol (over 160 milligrams/deciliter) and low levels of HDL (under 40 milligrams/deciliter) can increase your chances of having plaque buildup in your arteries. That limits blood flow and can lead to a stroke. Cutting down on saturated and trans fats can help lower your LDL, and exercise can boost your HDL. If those don’t do the trick, your doctor may prescribe medication to help with your levels.
Atrial fibrillation (AFib) — an irregular heart rhythm, makes you five times more likely to have a stroke. If you notice a racing or irregular heartbeat, see your doctor immediately.
Stroke and Diabetes
Affects how your body uses glucose, an important source of energy for your brain and the cells that make up your muscles and tissues.
The magic number is 7: For every 7 grams of fiber you eat daily, your stroke risk decreases by 7%. You should get about 25 grams a day: six to eight servings of whole grains, or eight to 10 servings of vegetables. Most people don’t come close to that.
Stroke and Nutrition
A balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, fish, lean meats, and whole grains can help lower your cholesterol. That means plaque is less likely to build up in your arteries and form clots. It also can help protect you from other conditions that raise your odds of having a stroke, like diabetes and high blood pressure.
Most of all, follow these recommendations and reduce your risk for stroke.