images of brain

7 Ways to Prevent Stroke

May is Stroke Awareness Month! Stroke is often thought of as a disease that affects only the elderly. Three-quarters of all strokes occur in people over the age of 65, 1 however; strokes can affect anyone of any age.

 

What causes a stroke?

 

A stroke occurs when the flow of oxygen-rich blood to part of the brain is blocked. Without oxygen, brain cells will begin to die in minutes. Sudden brain bleeding can also cause a stroke if brain cells receive damage.

 

What are the symptoms of a stroke?

 

Examples of stroke symptoms include

 

paralysis or numbness of the legs, arms or face

difficulty speaking or understanding speech

difficulty seeing

sudden weakness

 

How can stroke be prevented?

 

Certain risk factors are unavoidable such as age and having a close relative who has had a stroke. However, here are 7 healthy habits you can adopt to prevent this deadly disease today.

 

Lose weight

 

If you are overweight, losing weight is the most important place to start in reducing your risk of stroke. Make activity a regular part of your life and keep it fun. Finding an activity you really enjoy like participating in 5Ks or golfing will remove some of the pressure of having a weight loss plan.

 

Tracking your calories can help you determine where you’re consuming too much. Many apps will help you get an idea of what you should eat and track.

 

Work with your doctor to create a weight loss plan that meets your nutritional needs. A healthy, sustainable weight loss is typically 1-2 pounds per week, but may be more or less depending on your body’s needs and your doctor’s recommendations.

 

Lower blood pressure

 

High blood pressure is a very dangerous risk factor for stroke. It can double or even quadruple your risk level! Adopting to following strategies into your lifestyle can greatly improve blood pressure:

 

If you smoke, quit.

Reduce salt in your diet to 1,500 milligrams a day or less (around a half teaspoon).

Eat 4 to 5 cups of fruits and vegetables every day, one to three servings of fish each week, and several servings of whole grains and low-fat dairy each day.

Avoid high-cholesterol foods like cheese, ice cream and burgers

Exercise at least 30 minutes a day.

 

Become more active 

 

Exercise is a contributor to other ways of reducing your risk, but exercise alone is also a stroke risk reducer. Make it a goal to  exercise at moderate intensity five days per week.

 

Ways to exercise more:

 

Walk whenever possible including to work or by parking farther away from entrances.

Find accountability with friends.

Take the stairs instead of an elevator.

Even if you don’t have 30 consecutive minutes to exercise, that’s ok! 10- to 15-minute sessions a few times each day are just as effective.

 

Manage diabetes

 

Having high blood sugar damages blood vessels and makes clots more likely to occur. If you have diabetes, keep your doctor’s appointments and follow his recommendations. Monitor your sugar regularly and use exercise, diet and medication (if prescribed) to keep your sugar at the recommended range.

 

Treat atrial fibrillation (afib)

 

Atrial fibrillation is a form of irregular heartbeat that can cause clots to form in the heart. Those clots then travel to the brain and produce a stroke.

 

Symptoms such as heart palpitations or shortness of breath may indicate afib. Your doctor may prescribe an anticoagulant drug (blood thinner) to reduce your stroke risk.

 

Drink alcohol in moderation (or not at all)

 

New research concluded that 1-2 drinks per day increased stroke risk by 10-15%. Four drinks per day increased the risk by 35%. 2

 

Commit to consuming no more than one glass of alcohol a day. Choose red wine first because it contains resveratrol, a substance which is thought to protect the brain and heart.  Also, beware of your portion sizes. A standard-sized drink is a 12-ounce beer, 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5-ounce glass of hard liquor.

 

Stop Smoking

 

Smoking thickens  blood and increases the amount of plaque buildup in the arteries. This can lead to clot formation.

 

Ask your doctor for advice on the best way for you to quit. Quit-smoking aids, such as nicotine patches or pills, counseling, or medication may be strategies he or she recommends. Don’t give up no matter what! Few are able to quit on their first attempt. Think of any period of time not smoking as part of your success no matter how long or short it may be.

 

A stroke is a serious medical condition and requires emergency care. If you think you or someone else is having a stroke, call 9–1–1 immediately. During a stroke, every second counts!

 

To learn about our quality stroke care at CCMH, visit our website at https://www.ccmhhealth.com/stroke-care.

 

Sources

 

1 National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Stroke. 2019.

2 The Lancet. Alcohol use and burden for 195 countries and territories, 1990–2016: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016. 23 Aug. 2018.

 

Disclaimer


The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

 

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.


While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

energy drinks sitting on table

The Dangers of Energy Drinks

When life is busy, many of us are tempted to grab an energy drink to put a little extra pep in our step. However, research continues to find concerning effects after consuming these popular beverages. Consuming multiple energy drinks in a short time or consuming energy drinks in combination with other caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, can be especially harmful.  

Some lawmakers are even attempting to ban the sale of energy drinks to those under the age of 18. These legislative efforts occurred following tragic events such as the death of a sixteen-year- old boy from South Carolina. Davis Cripe suffered a cardiac episode that led to his death after consuming an energy drink, coffee and Mountain Dew in less than an hour. 1

 

What are the harmful ingredients in energy drinks?

 

The main ingredients of most energy drinks are caffeine and sugar. However, many experts believe it isn’t necessarily the caffeine in energy drinks that is harmful. After all, most healthy individuals who do not typically experience adverse effects from caffeine can safely consume 4-5 cups of coffee per day without problem.

The problem lies in the amount of sugar and caffeine. Many energy drinks have as much caffeine as 3-4 cups of coffee and more than the recommended amount of sugar you should consume in one day.

There are additional herbal stimulants found in energy drinks that are not regulated by the FDA. These ingredients in combination with high sugar and caffeine content may be the cause of serious or fatal problems for some consumers. 2

 

What happens after drinking an energy drink?


Twenty minutes after ingesting an energy drink, you experience a sugar high. This blood sugar spike results in a quick release of the hormone insulin.

Forty minutes later, all the caffeine is absorbed. As a result, blood pressure rises, the liver dumps even more sugar into the bloodstream and pupils dilate.

Forty five minutes later, dopamine production occurs in the body. This hormone gives you a sensation of pleasure. This reaction is similar to how the body responds to heroin.

After 60 minutes, a sugar crash occurs. The caffeine slowly wears off and you can experience mood changes, lethargy, fatigue and mental fogginess.


Why are energy drinks viewed as so unsafe?



It is difficult to predict how energy drinks will affect different individuals, especially with underlying heart issues or in combination with other substances containing alcohol or caffeine.

Oftentimes, individuals do not know they have a cardiac problem until something fatal occurs. For this reason, it is better to be safe than sorry when choosing how to get some extra pep to get through the day.

Despite what we do not know with certainty, the American Academy of Pediatrics has a very clear opinion of energy drink usage in children and teens. Given the observed side effects, including irregular heartbeats and blood pressure changes, the AAP recommends that children and teens should not consume energy drinks at all. 3



How to pep up without excessive caffeine


You can successfully and healthily boost energy levels in many ways that are safer than consuming copious amounts of stimulants.

Exercise regularly and participate in activities to reduce stress. 

Be mindful of your diet. Reduce sugar and increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids found in plants, seeds, fish and nuts.

Rest! Be sure to get 7-8 hours of quality rest each night.

Through safely managing your diet and routine, it is possible to achieve greater energy levels that do not involve risky habits.

 

Sources

1 KUTV. Gould, Cynthia. 16 Apr. 2018. 16-year-old’s death linked to energy drink, caffeine products.

2 Cleveland Heart Lab.13 Dec. 2018. Can Energy Drinks Harm Your Heart?

3 American Academy of Pediatrics. Energy Drinks.

 

Disclaimer

The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.

While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.