What are the risk factors of a stroke, and how to manage them
When you think of celebrities like Dick Clark, Sharon Stone, Rick James, and most recently Luke Perry, you probably think of their many talents. What you might not realize is that they all at one time suffered a stroke.
Strokes – or brain attacks – can happen to anyone at any time. Strokes are the leading cause of adult disability in the United States, and the fifth leading cause of death.
“Strokes occur when blood flow and oxygen is cut off to an area of the brain,” says Erin Aafedt, M.A., CCC-SLP, Speech- Language Pathologist at Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital. “This causes brain cells to die, which then in turn affects the abilities controlled by that part of the brain.”
According to the National Stroke Association, about 800,000 people suffer from strokes every year. What’s notable, however, is that nearly 80 percent of strokes can be avoided.
“Certain traits, conditions and habits can raise an individual’s risk of having a stroke,” Aafedt says. “Some of these factors can’t be controlled – like age, family history, gender and race. But many lifestyle risk factors can be controlled and can actually help prevent a stroke from occurring.”
Some of the major risk factors associated with stroke that can be controlled include:
-High blood pressure
-High blood cholesterol
“If you’re aware of what lifestyle risk factors you have, you can control, treat and improve them to lessen your chances of having a stroke,” Aafedt says. For example, Aafedt recommends getting regular checkups and following physician recommendations to treat any risk factors. “A healthy diet and regular exercise also can go a long way in preventing a stroke,” she says, “along with minimizing alcohol consumption and eliminating smoking.”
Aafedt does recognize, however, that changing behaviors or habits is not always easy -- especially when there haven’t been any negative consequences yet.
“Changing your diet or activity level is a long-term commitment that requires a lifestyle change, so it can be somewhat difficult,” she says. “But if you have any stroke risk factors, the time to change is now, before something negative happens. Remember, the changes you make now can affect what happens – or doesn’t happen – later.”
Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital will hold a free Stroke Awareness Fair from 9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Saturday, May 4. For more information, call 602-540-5310.
Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital is a 44-bed, free-standing rehabilitation hospital that provides specialized physical rehabilitation services to patients recovering from strokes, brain and spinal cord injuries, orthopedic injuries, and other disabilities caused by injuries, illnesses, or chronic medical conditions.
For more information, visit MVRRH.ernesthealth.com.
Information provided by Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital.