How to lower your risk of stroke
Making lifestyle changes to your control blood pressure
By Aimee Garza, MD, Neurologist, Centennial Medical Center, Collin LIVING WELL Magazine
Approximately every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a stroke. Strokes cause about one in 17 deaths annually, making it the third leading cause of death. Taking steps now is imperative to lower your risk of having a stroke in the future. One of the best ways to lower that risk is to take a proactive role in controlling your blood pressure.
“One of the most important risk factors for stroke is high blood pressure, or hypertension,” says Aimee Garza, MD, a neurologist at Centennial Medical Center in Frisco. She explains that untreated high blood pressure causes damage to blood vessels throughout the body, causing them to narrow and clog or weaken. When blood vessels in the brain become blocked, it can result in loss of blood flow to the brain, also known as an ischemic stroke. When a blood vessel ruptures this can result in bleeding into the brain, also known as a hemorrhagic stroke. Either type of stroke causes brain cells to die, which impairs the functioning of the brain.
In addition to stroke, high blood pressure also can cause other forms of brain damage, including transient ischemic attacks, or ministrokes; vascular dementia, which impairs language, thinking, memory and writing and mild cognitive impairment, which may affect reaction time and memory. High blood pressure can cause heart failure, coronary artery disease, kidney failure and eye blood vessel damage as well.
Dr. Garza explains that blood pressure can be controlled by medication prescribed by a doctor and also through lifestyle changes that you can start now. She suggests the following to manage blood pressure:
- Reducing salt in foods
- Eating healthier foods or replacing ingredients for healthier options in recipes:
- low fat or low calorie substitutes like applesauce or mashed banana in place of oil
- egg substitutes for whole eggs
- plain nonfat yogurt instead of sour cream
- skim milk instead of regular milk
- substitute sugary toppings with fresh fruit
- Maintaining a healthy body weight
- Reduce the amount of sugar by half and replace with vanilla, nutmeg or cinnamon
- Engaging in physical activity on a regular basis by exercising through walking, swimming, riding a bicycle or dancing
- Limiting alcohol intake to no more than two alcoholic drinks a day for men and one per day for women. If you choose to drink, select light wines and beers and use calorie-free mixers such as water and diet soda
- Not smoking
- Taking medications as directed by your physician to lower blood pressure
By making these simple lifestyle changes, you can better manage your high blood pressure and reduce the associated risks.
For more information about high blood pressure, talk with your doctor. Please call 1-800-330-3819 or visit www.centennialmedcenter.com to find a physician near you. Centennial Medical Center is located at 12505 Lebanon Road, Frisco, Texas 75035.