First, the incredibly daunting news: Stroke takes more women’s lives than breast cancer and is the third leading cause of death in women.
And here’s the strange but true news that can save your life: Most strokes are preventable. A whopping four out of five could have been avoided with the right information and a bit of effort. Read on to learn why stroke is so dangerous and what you can do to avoid one.
Stroke Requires Fast Action
Stroke is a medical emergency that can cause death or disability, especially if treatment is delayed. It happens because a blood vessel in the brain can’t get oxygen, usually because it’s blocked by a clot (ischemic stroke) or the blood vessel has ruptured (hemorrhagic stroke). When any part of the brain can’t get oxygen, brain cells begin to die.
Because time is so critical for reducing the harm from stroke, knowing the signs of a stroke is important. The American Stroke Association promotes FAST warning signs. That is, when you or someone near you begins to experience Face drooping, Arm weakness, or Speech difficulty, it’s Time to call 911.
Understanding Your Risk for Stroke
In general, women face a higher risk for stroke than men, and that might be due to hormonal differences and conditions related to birth control and pregnancy. Certain risk factors—like sex, race, age, and family history—are out of anyone’s hands. But a long list of conditions associated with stroke are lifestyle factors that can be modified. Many of these risk factors also apply to heart disease:
- High blood pressure—140/90 or higher stresses the blood vessels that feed into the brain.
- Smoking—nicotine and carbon monoxide damage the cardiovascular system.
- Diabetes—a risk factor on its own, diabetes often occurs with other risk factors, like obesity, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
- Diet—diets high in saturated fat and cholesterol help create the conditions for stroke. Getting at least five servings of fruits and vegetables helps improve several of the risk factors associated with stroke.
- Physical inactivity and obesity—also part of the medley of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes risk factors, inactivity and obesity are associated with stroke.
Concerned? Hancock Health Can Help.
Knowing you can reduce your risk of stroke is a small part of the battle, and Hancock Health can help you get started down a healthier path. If smoking is an issue for you, try one of our smoking cessation courses. If you’d like to become more active, good for you! Our Wellness Centers make it easy. And if you’d like help figuring out the best route for you, you might want to start by making an appointment with a general practitioner. Find one who’s right for you.
You can be on your way to a healthier you in no time.