I'm young - do I really need to know the signs of a Stroke?

I'm young - do I really need to know the signs of a Stroke?

Q. I hear a lot about knowing the signs of stroke. I'm young - Is it really important to me?

A. A Stroke can happen to anyone at anytime, regardless of race, gender or age, so we all should be aware of the risks, symptoms and prevention.
Some risks for stroke may be out of your control. Risks that you cannot change include being over age 55, male, African-American, having a family history, or a medical condition such as diabetes.

Lifestyle risk factors include:
• Smoking
• Obesity
• Inactivity (lack of exercise)
• Poor diet
• Alcohol consumption

However, there are risks for stroke that we can control. Medical conditions that contribute to an increase risk for stroke that can be managed or controlled include:
• Previous stroke episode
• High cholesterol
• High blood pressure
• Heart disease
• Atrial fibrillation

It is believed that 80% of strokes are preventable. Listed below are stroke prevention guidelines as provided by the National Stroke Association include:
1. Know your blood pressure (hypertension)
2. If you take blood pressure medicine, take it as prescribed.
3. Know if you have atrial fibrillation (Afib) - Afib is an abnormal heartbeat that can increase stroke risk by 500 percent
4. Stop Smoking and using tobacco products. Smoking doubles the risk of stroke.
5. Limit alcohol use - Alcohol use has been linked to stroke in many studies.
6. Know your cholesterol levels- Cholesterol is a fatty substance in blood that is made by the body and it also comes from food. High cholesterol levels can clog arteries and cause a stroke.
7. Control diabetes - You doctor can prescribe a nutrition program, lifestyle changes and medicine. Know your blood sugar level and your hemoglobin A1C if you have diabetes
8. Manage exercise and diet - Excess weight strains the circulatory system. Maintain a diet low in calories, salt, saturated and trans fats and cholesterol. Eat as least five servings of fruit and vegetables daily. Cardiovascular exercise for 30 minutes per day 5 days a week.
9. Treat circulation problems - Fatty deposits can block arteries.

To learn more about stroke, visit www.stroke.com

Critical Care Nurse Specialist