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5 Ways to Prevent Stroke

May is Stroke Awareness month and you’ll likely see a lot of news stories and advertisements in print, TV, and online about stroke and stroke survivors. There will be lots of useful information about recognizing the signs of stroke (FAST: Face, Arm, Speech, and Time), as well as the best places to get stroke treatments and stroke rehabilitation.

But it’s also important to know that while there are many different causes of stroke, there are simple things one can do to prevent stroke, or at least significantly reduce the likelihood of a debilitating stroke. After all, the American Stroke Association estimates that 80% of strokes are preventable.

Take charge of your health and learn five ways to help protect yourself against a stroke.

1.Live a healthy lifestyle. Achievinga healthy lifestyle can greatly reduce the risk of heart attacks and stroke. This includes quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly to maintain a healthy weight.Other good habits include sleeping regularly and limiting alcohol consumption.

2.Don’t ignore mini-strokes.Transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), sometimes called “mini strokes,” can cause temporary vision loss, slurred speech or weakness. Though they resolve within 24 hours, they may signal a problem that can lead to a full-blown stroke. About 1 in 3 people who have a TIA go on to have a stroke, often within a year, so be sure to seek medical care if you’ve suffered from these temporary symptoms or believe you’ve had a TIA.

3.Treat diabetes.Diabetescan cause blood clots to form if not properly managed. For people with diabetes, high blood sugar damages blood vessels over time, increasing the likelihood that clots will form inside them. These clots can then travel to the brain, causing a stroke. People with diabetes are 2-4 times more likely to have a stroke.

4.Manage blood pressure and cholesterol.High blood pressure and high cholesterol can both cause plaque build-up in your arteries, leading to heart attack or stroke. In people having a stroke for the first time, three-quarters have high blood pressure. If lifestyle changes aren’t enough to keep these conditions in check, your doctor may recommend medication to help control them.

5.Get screened for carotid artery disease.A clogged carotid artery in the neck caused by the build-up of plaque is estimated to cause one-third of strokes. If you have been diagnosed with heart disease or peripheral artery disease, you are at an increased risk for carotid artery disease, too. Other risk factors include being over age 65, smoking and a family history of stroke. Early diagnosis and treatment of a narrowed carotid artery can decrease stroke risk. Your doctor can listen to the arteries in your neck with a stethoscope or refer you for a carotid ultrasound.

What do you do if you learn you have carotid artery disease?

Some people can be treated with medication, while others may require surgery. Our practice offers traditional carotid artery surgery(called carotid endarterectomy, or CEA) surgery and offers a new surgical procedure called Transcarotid Artery Revascularization (TCAR) for people who are at high risk for traditional surgery.

Please reach out to us to find out if the procedure is right for you.

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