|Strokes are the third leading cause of death in the United States. A stroke occurs when blood circulation to the brain fails, primarily due to a blood clot or narrowing of the artery leading to the brain. This deprives the brain of much-needed oxygen and nutrients.
Farzaneh Sorond, M.D., Ph.D., a consulting neurologist at Hebrew Rehabilitation Center, offers the following tips for reducing your risk for stroke:
- Control your blood pressure - have it checked annually and treated if high (> 120/80 mg/dL).
- Stop smoking-smoking is linked to an increased risk of stroke.
- Exercise regularly-exercise can improve circulation, lower blood pressure, increase your good cholesterol, and control your weight.
- Eat a healthful diet-keep your diet low in fats, saturated fatty acids, and cholesterol, and high in fruits and vegetables.
- Manage your diabetes - uncontrolled diabetes can damage the blood vessels going to your brain.
- Control your cholesterol-high cholesterol increases the risk of stroke.
- Drink alcohol in moderation-no more than two alcoholic beverages per day for men and no more than one per day for women.
In addition, says Dr. Sorond, it is important to recognize the symptoms of stroke: sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body; sudden confusion or difficulty speaking; sudden vision difficulty; dizziness or loss of vision; and a sudden, severe headache. Treatment is more effective if given quickly.