Nearly 800,000 people in the U.S. suffer a stroke each year. And according to the American Heart Association, someone in the U.S. has a stroke every 40 seconds. It should should be of no surprise then that stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability. But did you know it’s also considered the leading preventable cause of disability?
Uncontrollable factors such as age, family history, and gender all increase your risk for stroke. However, the majority of strokes are the result of lifestyle factors which can be controlled. In fact, it’s estimated that up to 80 percent of strokes could be prevented through better management of chronic conditions and by making better lifestyle choices.
Here are 6 ways seniors can decrease their risk of stroke:
Watch your blood pressure. High blood pressure can double or even triple your risk of stroke and is the biggest contributor to an increased risk of stroke in both men and women.
Lose some weight if necessary. Obesity leads to an increased risk of hypertension and chronic conditions such as diabetes, which can in turn increase your risk of stroke. If you are overweight, losing as little as 10 pounds can greatly reduce your overall risk of stroke.
Exercise often. Exercise holds a host of benefits for seniors. It can also help you maintain a healthy body weight while working to lower blood pressure.
Drink in moderation. Drinking more than two drinks per day increases your risk of stroke. However, some studies suggest having one drink per day, particularly red wine, could actually decrease your risk.
Properly manage diabetes. Over time, high blood sugar can damage blood vessels, making clots more likely to form. If you have diabetes, be sure to work with your doctor to keep your blood sugar under control.
Quit smoking. Smoking can actually accelerate the formation of clots. It can also thicken your blood leading to a build up of plaque in the arteries. And studies show quitting smoking can greatly decrease your risk of stroke.
Signs of a Stroke
While there is no sure way to prevent a stroke, it’s important that seniors recognize the signs of a stroke, because when it comes to treatment, minutes matter. Some strokes happen gradually, but generally include one or more sudden symptoms such as:
Numbness or weakness in an arm, leg or face, particularly on one side of the body
Confusion or difficultly understanding others
Seeing double in one or both eyes
Issues walking or staying balanced
Severe headache that comes on for no clear reason
Many recommend remembering the signs of stroke by using the FAST test:
Face: Does one side of the face droop when smiling?
Arms: Does one arm drop down when both are raised?
Speech: Is speech slurred or strange?
Time: If you answer yes to any of these questions, time is of the essence. Seek medical attention right away.
Again, when it comes to stroke, minutes matter. If you see these symptoms in yourself or a loved one, it’s important to seek medical help as soon as possible. Doing so can limit damage to the brain and potentially save you or your loved one’s life.
Support After Stroke at Franciscan Ministries
At Franciscan Ministries, we strive to help our residents stay healthy through wellness programs and nutritious dining options. However, for seniors who have suffered a stroke, our assisted living communities are ready to provide the long-term support and assistance needed to maintain their independence and stay active. Contact us today to learn more about our community options and to learn more about how we’re helping seniors stay happy and healthy at every age.