Reducing Your Risk of Stroke
Symptoms, Prevention and Primary Stroke Centers
Courtesy Centennial Medical Center, Collin County LIVING WELL Magazine
Stroke accounts for the fourth largest number of deaths in the United States annually and is a leading cause of disability. But there is good news. There are about seven million stroke survivors alive today and the death rate from stroke has actually declined over recent years. Want some more good news? You can control some risk factors and potentially prevent a stroke. Centennial Medical Center in Frisco, Texas, discusses the symptoms and dangers of stroke, preventing a stroke and the special care a primary stroke center can offer a patient.
If you notice a sudden change in your vision or maybe one of your arms or legs feels heavy, numb or weak, you may be having a stroke. Strokes are known as silent killers and may include the sudden onset of one or more of the following symptoms:
- Numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg
- Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
- Trouble walking, dizziness or loss of balance or coordination
- Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Severe headache with no known cause
During a stroke, blood supply to the brain is cut off or disrupted, causing part of the brain to go without the oxygen-rich blood it needs. The longer the brain goes without blood, the greater the chance a disability will occur, which is why prompt emergency medical care is crucial.
Primary Stroke Centers
The Joint Commission, in conjunction with The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, recognized Centennial with Advanced Certification for Primary Stroke Centers, signifying the organization’s dedication to fostering better outcomes for patients. The certification has demonstrated that the hospital’s program meets critical elements of performance to achieve long-term success in improving outcomes for stroke patients.
Centennial has found that using the stroke center approach helps diagnose and treat strokes more quickly. The hospital uses evidence-based medicine to establish written protocols for stroke care that are designed to improve patient care and quickly get them the care they need. These protocols have been shown to reduce the number of stroke-related complications, which lead to improved quality of life for stroke patients.
Tips to Preventing a Stroke
- Manage high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes
High blood pressure can damage blood vessels, including the ones that provide vital blood flow to the brain. Diabetes, which affects how the body processes sugars and fats, should be controlled to reduce complications if you do have a stroke.
- Stop smoking
The nicotine and carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke can damage the cardiovascular system, causing narrowed blood vessels and blood clots.
- Eat healthy foods
Eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily to help reduce the risk of stroke. Choose low-calorie, low-fat snacks and bake, boil or broil rather than frying. Avoid adding salt and opt for canola, safflower or olive oils when cooking. Select skinless chicken, lean red meat, turkey and fish.
- Maintain a healthy weight
Being overweight can cause your body to convert excess fat and cholesterol into plaque, potentially reducing blood flow to the brain and making your heart work harder. Losing just 10 pounds can help lower your cholesterol level and blood pressure.
- Exercise regularly.
Moderate exercise of at least 30 minutes most days can not only lower your risk of stroke, but also help improve your heart health, lose weight, control diabetes and reduce stress.
To learn more about stroke, visit the free, online health library and take the How Much Do You Know About Stroke? quiz at www.CentennialMedCenter.com/StrokeQuiz.