By American Heart Association
Many people don’t realize that stroke can be prevented. A stroke happens when a blood vessel is blocked or bursts, preventing blood and oxygen from getting to the brain. It’s a leading cause of disability and the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. In 2016, stroke caused the deaths of more than 5,200 non-Hispanic Asians.
Good health habits that help you manage heart health can also help prevent stroke. The American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association, lists seven habits to help prevent stroke.
- Don’t smoke. If you smoke, STOP, and if you don’t smoke, don’t start! Smoking can increase your blood pressure, among many other health issues and it’s the no. 1 controllable risk factor for stroke. Quitting is one of the best things you can do to improve your health and add years to your life.
- Manage blood pressure. It is estimated that among Asian adults, 46 percent of men and 36 percent of women have high blood pressure. Nothing causes more strokes than uncontrolled high blood pressure. Lowering your blood pressure by just 20 points could cut your risk of dying from a stroke by half. A good blood pressure should be less than 120/80.
- Be physically active. A good starting goal is at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week. Find forms of physical activity that you enjoy. Walking and badminton are two examples.
- Eat a healthy diet. Healthy eating starts with simple healthy food choices. You don’t need to stop eating your favorite meals, just use substitutions to make them healthier. Learn what to look for at the grocery store, restaurants, your workplace, and other eating occasions, so you can confidently make healthy, delicious choices.
- Maintain a healthy weight. By losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight, you are also likely to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.There’s no magic trick to losing weight and keeping it off, but most people who are successful modify their eating habits and increase their physical activity.
- Control cholesterol. Having large amounts of LDL cholesterol in the blood, the bad cholesterol, can cause build up and blood clots, which leads to a heart attack or stroke. Reducing your fat intake, especially trans fats, more often found in fried foods and baked goods, can help reduce your cholesterol. Adding more foods with omega-3 fatty acids like fish and nuts, as well as fiber, can also help.
- Control blood sugar. By managing your diabetes and working with your health care team, you may reduce your risk of stroke.
Not all strokes can be prevented and people who have had a stroke are at high risk of having a second one. Stroke survivors should work with their doctor on a plan to reduce their risk for another stroke.
Stroke is an emergency and it’s very important to call 9-1-1 and get to the hospital immediately. Use the acronym F.A.S.T. to remember the most common signs:
- Face Drooping — Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven?
- Arm Weakness — Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
- Speech Difficulty — Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.”
- Time to Call 9-1-1 — If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital immediately. (Tip: Check the time so you’ll know when the first symptoms appeared.)
Learn more at StrokeAssociation.org.