Understanding and reducing your risk for stroke

golden years are great

Stroke is a condition that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. It is the fifth-leading cause of death and the leading cause of disability in the United States.

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood and oxygen it needs.

Every minute counts when you’re having a stroke. For every minute after a stroke occurs before treatment, 1.9 million neurons in the brain die. This usually causes some form of permanent damage.

Types of stroke

Stroke can be caused either by a clot obstructing the flow of blood to the brain — called an ischemic stroke — or by a blood vessel rupturing and preventing blood flow to the brain — which is called a hemorrhagic stroke. The former accounts for about 87 percent of stroke cases; the latter, about 13 percent. They’re both very serious, life-threatening conditions – but experts consider hemorrhagic to be the most lethal.

Stroke prevention

What helps your heart can help your brain, too. Following a heart-healthy lifestyle is something every senior can, and should, be doing. Not only can doing so lower your chances of having a stroke, it can also make a big difference in your mental abilities as you age.

In fact, getting plenty of physical activity, eating a healthful diet and partaking in other behaviors that strengthen your heart can have a profound effect on the way you think, how you act and what you remember.

Here’s what happens: Those unhealthy behaviors can lead to narrowing of the blood vessels. That reduces blood flow to the brain, and leads to hardening of the arteries of the heart and the brain. When your brain doesn’t get the blood flow it needs, it can begin to malfunction. As a result, you could experience problems thinking, trouble with memory, difficulty finding your way from place to place and deterioration in cognitive function. And if blood flow to the brain is abruptly blocked, you could even have a stroke.

So, here are some tips:

  • Monitor your blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, take steps to lower it.
  • If you have type 2 diabetes or issues with circulation, discuss treatment options with your doctor
  • If you currently smoke, quit today!
  • Exercise as much as you’re able.
  • Stay as close as possible to your ideal weight.
  • Eat a healthful diet – one that includes lean proteins, fresh vegetables and fruit, and whole grains.

And remember the acronym F.A.S.T. if you or a loved do start experiencing these symptoms:

  • F – Face drooping
  • A – Arm weakness
  • S – Speech difficulty
  • T– Time to call 9-1-1 and get to the hospital immediately

Lourdes-Noreen McKeen residents have access to a Wellness Center that offers a variety of services including blood-pressure monitoring and the screening of other health conditions. Knowing that nurses are available 24 hours a day provides residents with tremendous piece of mind.

Senior Living

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