Strokes are the third most common cause of death in the developed world. In the United States alone- someone has a stroke every 40 seconds. Every 4 minutes, someone dies of a stroke. Every year, more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke
They are also responsible for a huge amount of suffering, often leaving survivors physically and mentally disabled and their loved ones heartbroken and traumatized. Yet the vast majority of strokes could be avoided if a different, healthier lifestyle were adopted.
Genetics can play a factor in strokes as well. Several genetic disorders can cause a stroke, including sickle cell disease. People with a family history of stroke are also likely to share common environments and other potential factors that increase their risk. The likelihood of a stroke can increase even more when these genetics combine with unhealthy lifestyle choices.
Strokes occur when the brain is deprived of blood, usually due to blockages in the arteries.
This, in turn, damages brain tissue, leading to a variety of symptoms, from slurred speech to severe paralysis.
The symptoms vary so much because the brain itself is so complicated; put simply, different strokes affect different parts of the brain which are in turn responsible for different parts of the body. The severity also varies. Some can even pass unnoticed.
Signs That A Stroke May Be Occurring
- Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body.
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding speech.
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination.
So the question many of us have is…
Are strokes preventable?
The answer isn’t just a simple yes or no.
But- there are steps we can take to keep our bodies at their healthiest.
What You Can Do To Help Protect Yourself
Reduce the amount of homocysteine your body produces. Homocysteine is produced by the metabolizing of proteins. It is toxic and is now known to damage the arteries. To prevent this, you need to ensure that your body has sufficient amounts of B12, B6, and folic acid; these will help your body convert the homocysteine into less dangerous substances. A simple B-complex, taken each morning, could literally save your life.
Eat a healthier diet. Fresh fruits and vegetables contain protective antioxidants, so fill your shopping trolley with them! Foods rich in beta-carotene, like carrots, mangoes, cabbage, and pumpkins should also be consumed regularly. And eat more leafy green vegetables, like kale, chard, broccoli, and spinach. Finally, eat plenty of foods rich in potassium. If you are over 65, a lack of sufficient potassium will double your risk of a stroke, so add bananas, squash, asparagus, oranges, lentils, and kidney beans to your shopping list.
Stop eating foods that will increase your risk. Above all, stop eating red meats, full-fat dairy produce, cheese, chocolate, and hydrogenated kinds of margarine. Such things will increase the homocysteine levels in your body. Next, cut any “white” products from your diet (white pasta, white bread, white rice, etc) as the B-vitamins will have been removed during processing. Finally, reduce the amount of salt you consume. A diet packed with salt (potato chips, for example, are especially bad) will increase blood pressure.
Consider taking a magnesium supplement. Magnesium relaxes the arteries, allowing blood to move more freely. This dilatory effect is so pronounced that those who have suffered a stroke are often given magnesium intravenously.
Do what you can to improve circulation. Obviously, exercise is helpful. If you have been warned that you need to get in shape, however, do not panic and push your body out of its comfort zone. The key is to exercise little and often. A brisk walk or swim followed by some gentle yoga would be best. Ginkgo biloba is also worth trying. Ginkgo increases blood circulation to the brain and prevents blood platelets from sticking together.
While a stroke can happen to any of us, there is also much that can be done to prevent them. You should always seek and follow professional advice of course, but the effectiveness of any treatments will be enhanced by following the tips offered here.