How To Beat The Odds Of Suffering A Stroke - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

How To Beat The Odds Of Suffering A Stroke

Providence cardio surgeon Dr. Robert Zurcher, right, says that a stroke acts very much like a heart attack. In both cases, portions of the heart or brain actually begin to die when they are cut off from oxygen and nutrients supplied by normal blood flow. Providence cardio surgeon Dr. Robert Zurcher, right, says that a stroke acts very much like a heart attack. In both cases, portions of the heart or brain actually begin to die when they are cut off from oxygen and nutrients supplied by normal blood flow.

Once again, South Carolina is number one in something awful. On a per capita basis, more people die of stroke each year in South Carolina than in any other state.

That’s the bad news, according to the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association.

The good news is, you can reduce the chances of suffering a stroke with changes in the way you live your daily life.

Stroke is a cardiovascular disease. Just as most heart attacks result from a clot that keeps blood from reaching vital areas of the heart, almost 90 percent of strokes result from a clot that keeps blood from reaching vital areas of the brain.

“Strokes brought on by a blood clot are called ischemic strokes,” says Dr. Robert Zurcher, a cardiovascular surgeon with Providence Heart Institute.

“Strokes that are caused by ruptured blood vessels are called hemorrhagic strokes, but we only see those in about 10 or 12 percent of all stroke patients.

“Both cases are very much like a heart attack, in that the portions of the brain or heart that can’t get oxygen and nutrients from the blood begin to die,” Dr. Zurcher explains. “In the case of a stroke, certain body functions cease as a result, which is why we see people with lingering paralysis or speech and vision problems.”

The risk factors for stroke are almost identical to those for heart disease. Some of them – family history and increasing age, for example – are beyond our control.

But there are a number of other risk factors we can control:

High Blood Pressure
You can reduce your blood pressure with changes in your diet and prescription drugs.

High Cholesterol
You can reduce your cholesterol with changes in your diet, exercise and prescription drugs.

Smoking
It’s a hard habit to break, but quitting can save your life. Nicotine and carbon monoxide in cigarettes reduce the amount of oxygen in your blood and damage the walls of your blood vessels, thereby making clots more likely to form.

Physical Inactivity
You can reduce your risk of stroke by exercising vigorously at least 30 minutes a day. If you have any other risk factors in addition to leading a sedentary lifestyle, you should consult your physician before starting to exercise.

Being Overweight
You can reduce your risk of stroke by reaching and then maintaining a healthy body weight. If you are obese or significantly overweight, you should consult your physician, of course, before starting any kind of diet.

Other Diseases
Treating diseases you might already have – especially heart disease, diabetes and sickle cell disease – can help to minimize your risk for stroke.

About 700,000 Americans will suffer a stroke this year. Nearly a quarter of them will die, making stroke the third largest cause of death in the U.S.

With some self-control and medical awareness, there’s a good chance you can keep yourself or someone you love from becoming one of those statistics.

How You Can Tell If Someone Is Having A Stroke

Stroke victims often suffer brain damage because people nearby fail to realize what’s happening. But doctors say you can recognize the tell-tale signs of a stroke by asking the victim three questions:

(1) Can you smile?

(2) Can you raise both arms?

(3) Can you speak a sentence (such as “My name is John Smith”)?

After discovering that non-medical volunteers could identify facial weakness, arm weakness and speech problems, researchers presented these findings at the February annual meeting of the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association.

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