How to Prevent a Stroke?

In the prevention of cerebrovascular accidents and their functional consequences, it is essential to control the risk factors as well as the immediate identification of the warning signs and symptoms.

 

Thus, they have identified various medical conditions (blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, cholesterol, etc …) and lifestyles (sedentary lifestyle, alcohol and tobacco consumption, etc …) that may increase the likelihood of suffering a stroke However, many of them are controllable.

A stroke or stroke is one of the most serious neurological pathologies, although this is a preventable medical condition.

How to Prevent a Stroke

In the United States, it is the main cause of functional disability and the third cause of death in the general population, however, there is a wide variety of factors that increase the probability of suffering this type of neurological pathology.

How to Prevent a Stroke

what is a stroke?

A stroke or cerebrovascular accident (CVA) occurs when the blood flow in the arteries that supply the brain is interrupted or significantly reduced, or when there is bleeding in brain or adjacent areas (National Stroke Association, 2016).

When this occurs, the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the brain is interrupted and, therefore, the brain cells begin to deteriorate and die (Know Stroke, 2009).

Thus, in the case of strokes, cerebral blood flow can be interrupted for several reasons (Know Stroke, 2009):

  • Obstruction or blockage of a cerebral blood vessel (blood clot, air bubble, tumor cells, accumulation of fatty substances, etc …).
  • Blood spill inside the brain.

Based on this, we can distinguish two basic types of stroke or stroke (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 2002):

  • Ischemic stroke: this type of stroke occurs when a clot / thrombus blocks or obstructs a cerebral blood vessel.
  • Hemorrhagic stroke (stroke): This type of stroke occurs when there is a rupture or bleeding from a cerebral blood vessel.

Specifically, ischemic strokes are the most frequent, accounting for approximately 80% of all cases, while hemorrhagic accidents represent the remaining 20% ​​of cases (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 2002).

Due to its neurological involvement, any of these types of stroke or stroke pose a medical emergency and health care is crucial. Immediate intervention can reduce brain damage and secondary medical complications (Mayo Clinic, 2016).

Despite this, there is treatment for stroke, in addition to a wide variety of factors that can be controlled to prevent its occurrence (Mayo Clinic, 2016).

Statistics

Worldwide, in 2015 around 17.5 million people died as a result of a stroke (WHO, 2015).

The strokes are the leading cause of death in women and the second in men. In addition, it is one of the most important causes of disability among the adult population (Spanish Brain Injury Federation, 2016).

In Spain, more than 300,000 people live with a disability associated with a stroke (Spanish Brain Injury Federation, 2016).

In the case of the United States, approximately 780,000 people suffer strokes each year. In addition, the risk doubles in the population over 55 years of age (Know Stroke, 2009).

Is it possible to prevent a stroke?

In addition to the identification of the signs and symptoms of alarm and the existence of different therapeutic interventions for the treatment of strokes, it is essential to take some measures that may be key to their prevention.

Medical specialists have identified a wide variety of risk factors that influence the likelihood of having a stroke.

Therefore, a risk factor is a condition, condition or behavior that increases the probability of suffering from certain diseases (Know Stroke, 2009).

Despite this, having a risk factor that is related to strokes does not mean that you will suffer unequivocally and in the same way, not presenting a risk factor, does not mean that you will not suffer any type of cerebrovascular accident (Know Stroke, 2009).

Anyone can have a stroke, regardless of sex, age group or place of origin, you can even suffer before birth People with diabetes can reduce the risk of stroke if they follow the instructions of their doctors to control the level of blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol and weight.

However, many individuals are subject to a higher risk of stroke than others (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 2015).

Thus, some of the conditions associated with stroke, related to lifestyle or medical status can be modified (blood pressure, diabetes, alcohol and tobacco consumption, cholesterol, etc …), while others are not modifiable ( age, medical and family history, sex, etc …) (American Stroke Association, 2016).

a) Non-modifiable risk factors

Age

Strokes not only occur in older adults, they can occur in any age group (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 2015).

However, the risk of stroke tends to increase with increasing age. Therefore, an older person has a higher risk of suffering a stroke than another in the general population (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 2015).

Specifically, starting at 55 years of age, this risk is triggered, doubling for each decade completed (American Stroke Association, 2016). People who reach 65 years of age are seven times more likely to have a stroke (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 2015).

While it is true that strokes are more common among the elderly, a good part of the cases occur in people who are under the age of 65 (American Stroke Association, 2016).

Family history

In addition to age, the risk of stroke can be increased if a direct family member (father, mother, grandparent, brother / sister) has suffered one beforehand (American Stroke Association, 2016).

Many of the cases of cerebrovascular accidents can be the product of disorders or genetic diseases such as autosomal dominant cerebral arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy (ACADISL) (American Stroke Association, 2016).

ACADISL is a pathology product of a genetic mutation that leads to the development of damage to the walls of the cerebral blood vessels, blocking the normalized blood flow (American Stroke Association, 2016).

Many of the individuals suffering from autosomal dominant cerebral arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy have a family history of the disease (American Stroke Association, 2016).

Specifically, a person suffering from ACADISL has a 50% chance of having a child with this same pathology (American Stroke Association, 2016).

In addition to this pathology, members of the same family may also have a genetic tendency to develop other risk factors related to stroke, such as inheritance of predisposition to hypertension or diabetes (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 2015). ).

Sex

The risk of suffering a stroke is also influenced by sex (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 2015).

Although men have a higher risk of suffering this type of pathology (1.25 times more likely), it is women who show higher mortality (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 2015).

Due to the lower male life expectancy, men tend to be younger when they suffer strokes, therefore their survival rate is higher than that of women (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 2015).

In women, in addition, the consumption of contraceptive drugs, pregnancy, gestational diabetes, postmenopausal hormone therapy, etc., can significantly increase the incidence of strokes in women (American Stroke Association, 2016).

Race

The probability of suffering a stroke can also vary between different ethnic and racial groups (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 2015).

African-Americans have a higher risk of dying due to the occurrence of a stroke (American Stroke Association, 2016).

Specifically, twice as many African Americans as Caucasian Americans die due to stroke (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 2015), this is mainly due to the increased risk of diabetes, obesity or high blood pressure that exist in the population of color (American Stroke Association, 2016).

However, in the general population that is 55 years of age or older, the probability of having a stroke is equivalent for both racial groups (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 2015).

On the other hand, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (2015) also notes that Americans of Eastern origin (Japan, China, etc …), also have a higher rate of incidence and mortality from strokes than those of origin continental.

Previous cerebrovascular accident

The risk of suffering a stroke for a person who has already had some type of accident or cerebrovascular event is much higher compared to the general population (American Stroke Association, 2016).

For example, transient ischemic attacks (TIA) are a type of stroke in which the blood flow is interrupted momentarily and the neurological symptoms disappear within a period of less than one hour (Martínez-Vila et al. ., 2011).

Many medical specialists point out that transient ischemic attacks constitute a “warning” of a possible future stroke (American Stroke Association, 2016).

In this way, a person who has suffered one or several TIAs, is about 10 times more likely to suffer another stroke than, that person of the same sex and age who has not suffered (American Stroke Association, 2016).

b) Modifiable risk factors: medical conditions

Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease in which there is an elevated level of blood glucose. If left untreated, the abnormal increase in glucose in the body can damage multiple organs: eyes, kidneys, nerve structures, etc … (National Institutes of Health, 2014).

In addition, diabetes is one of the medical pathologies that increase the probability of having a stroke, specifically three times the risk of occurrence (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 2015).

Therefore, it is essential that people with diabetes undergo rigorous medical monitoring as they can reduce the risk of stroke following medical indications, controlling blood sugar levels and following the therapeutic recommendations in a rigorous way. (Know Stroke, 2009).

Hypertension

Hypertension is a medical condition in which there is a high blood pressure (the force that the blood pumped from the heart exerts against the walls of the aterías), that is to say when it reaches a value equal or superior to 120 / 80mmHg (National Institutes of Health, 2015).

High blood pressure is the main cause of stroke and one of the most controllable risk factors (American Stroke Association, 2016).

Specifically, people with hypertension are six times more likely to suffer a stroke (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 2015).

The use of antihypertensive medications by medical prescription can reduce the risk of stroke, in the case of the incidence rate by 38%, while in the case of mortality by 40% (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 2015).

Heart diseases

Some cardiac pathologies, such as atrial fibrillation or cardiac malformations, can also significantly increase the risk of suffering a stroke (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 2015).

Atrial fibrillation is a pathology in which there is an alteration of heart rate- The upper areas of the heart tend to tremble instead of beating effectively, which increases the heart rate and allows the accumulation of blood and clots that can move towards the brain (American Stroke Association, 2016).

Other heart diseases, such as malformations in the heart muscle or valves, can also double the risk of a stroke (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 2015).

When you suffer from some type of heart disease, you are twice as likely to suffer a stroke and therefore it is essential that you follow the medical and therapeutic prescriptions (Know Stroke, 2009).

Artery diseases

Specifically, the carotid arteries are responsible for redirecting blood flow to the brain. If one of these arteries is narrowed by the presence of fat deposits, arteriosclerosis may develop (American Stroke Association, 2016).

In arteriosclerosis, the presence of plaques or fatty deposits can block the artery and thereby interrupt cerebral blood flow, leading to a stroke (American Stroke Association, 2016).

Cholesterol

People who have high cholesterol levels have a higher risk of suffering a stroke (American Stroke Association, 2016).

The accumulation of lipoproteins in the walls that form the arteries can lead to the development of arteriosclerosis or carotid stenosis (American Stroke Association, 2016).

A person who has high cholesterol levels should design a healthy diet and exercise on a regular basis, to reduce both total cholesterol levels and the risk of suffering from a stroke (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 2015).

c) Modifiable risk factors: lifestyle

Diet

Diets high in saturated fat, sodium, or with excess calories can contribute to the development of cholesterol, increased blood pressure and obesity, and therefore increase the likelihood of a stroke (American Stroke Association, 2016) .

To control this factor, it is necessary to design a balanced and nutritious diet, that is, a diet with fewer fatty components, based on vegetables and fruits (American Stroke Association, 2016).

The Spanish Federation of Acquired Brain Damage (2014), restarts the consumption of the Mediterranean diet, which is characterized by plant-based foods, olive oil as main fat, moderate consumption of fish, poultry, dairy products and eggs and the intake of small amounts of red meat.

Physical exercise

The absence or lack of physical activity can increase the probability of developing multiple medical pathologies such as obesity, hypercholesterolemia, cardiac pathologies, hypertension or stroke (American Stroke Association, 2016).

Performing moderate exercise on a regular basis is essential to improve both physical and cognitive health (Spanish Federation of Acquired Brain Damage, 2014).

Therefore, changing a sedentary lifestyle by physical activity helps reduce cholesterol levels and control some heart conditions such as hypertension.

Obesity

Overweight contributes to a multitude of medical pathologies that can significantly reduce the quality of life and life expectancy.

The consumption of a balanced diet and the performance of physical exercise lead to an effective control of body weight.

Smoking

Many studies and research have shown that smoking is an important factor for stroke (American Stroke Association, 2016).

The entry of carbon monoxide and nicotine in the body contributes to the development of various medical pathologies that significantly increase the chances of suffering a stroke (American Stroke Association, 2016).

Smoking contributes to the increase in blood pressure, decreases the tolerance to physical exercise and the valroes of HDL or “good” cholesterol (Know Stroke, 2009).

The Spanish Federation of Acquired Brain Damage (2014) states that quitting tobacco consumption means improving lung capacity, blood circulation and taste and smell.

Consumption of alcohol

The excessive consumption of alcohol is another factor that contributes to the occurrence of strokes.

In general, the increase in alcohol intake causes a rise in blood pressure, another of the risk factors of stroke.

Also Read: West Syndrome: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

However, moderate alcohol consumption, for example, a glass of wine, can act as an antioxidant and be beneficial for the circulatory system (Spanish Federation of Acquired Brain Damage, 2014)

 

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