Strokes are the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. They are either caused by a blood clot or bleeding in the brain and often cause chronic disability, which becomes a need for long-term care. The burden of long-term care often falls on the family and can be a major concern for many patients. With this in mind, minimizing your risk of stroke can be important not only for you but for your family’s future as well.
There is good news and bad news when it comes to stroke risk. The bad news is that some risk factors cannot change like race, gender and family history of stroke. The good news is, up to 80% of strokes are preventable by modifying things in your life. Here are a few ways to help keep strokes away:
Maintaining a healthy blood pressure is vital for good health. It helps prevent both types of stroke. Many people are not aware that their blood pressure is high. This is why your annual primary care exam is important. Your healthcare provider monitors your blood pressure levels in order to catch higher levels sooner. You can monitor your blood pressure at home or by using a machine in the pharmacy or grocery store. If your top number is consistently above 130 or your bottom number above 80, it is probably a good idea to see your primary care provider for a professional assessment.
Another risk is high blood sugar. Unfortunately, this often goes unnoticed, as the symptoms are not always present or obvious. Some people notice themselves being hungrier, thirstier or urinating more frequently, but often there are no signs. Labs from your provider are often the first indication of a problem. Once discovered, controlling and tracking your blood sugar is very important for overall health and reducing stroke risk.
We all know smoking is bad for you and that it is one of the hardest things to quit. However, quitting is the most important thing a smoker can do for their health. If you are ready to quit and cold turkey has not worked for you, talk to your primary care provider about techniques and nicotine replacements to cut this problem out of your life.
A healthy diet can help with high cholesterol. If you are unable to keep it under control with diet alone, your primary care provider will likely recommend medication. In order to find out your cholesterol levels and understand them, you should make an appointment with your provider to have your cholesterol tested.
Increasing physical activity can go a long way to lower your risk of stroke. Aiming for 30 minutes of focused activity, like walking or bike riding five days per week, will help you improve your odds of stroke prevention.
Dr. Matthew Boehme, DO, is an internal medicine physician at UT Health East Texas Physicians in Jacksonville. He is accepting new patients and ready to help you with your healthcare needs. To schedule an appointment, call 903-541-5396 or visit https://ut-health-east-texas-ardent-health-services.inquicker.com/provider/matthew-boehme.