May is American Stroke Awareness Month and Women’s Health Month. This is an important time to educate patients, raise awareness, and provide solutions regarding these health concerns. It is our mission at Cardiovascular Institute of the South to help women learn the unique risk factors they face and equip them to identify common stroke symptoms. And with four stroke prevention tips, women can make essential changes in their health that may help reduce their risk of stroke.
First, What is Stroke
There are two main types of stroke: ischemic stroke and hemorrhagic stroke. Ischemic stroke is the most common type of stroke. It occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery that supplies blood to the brain. Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures, causing bleeding in the brain. These strokes can damage brain tissue and cause neurological symptoms, depending on which part of the brain is affected. For example:
- A stroke in the brainstem can cause difficulty with breathing and swallowing, double vision, and paralysis on both sides of the body.
- If a stroke occurs in the cerebellum, it can cause problems with coordination and balance, dizziness, and difficulty with fine motor skills.
- A stroke in the frontal lobe can cause changes in mood and personality, difficulty with planning and problem-solving, and weakness or paralysis on one side of the body.
Since strokes involve a disruption of bloodflow to the brain, a cardiologist is a key expert in diagnosing and treating your condition. Your heart doctor at one of our Cardiovascular Institute of the South clinic locations can provide stroke prevention tips. And if you are recovering from a stroke, they can work with you for treatment and to prevent another critical health event.
Know Your Risk
According to the CDC, 20% of women over 55 will have a stroke. Several factors can increase a woman’s risk of stroke, such as her physical health. Women with high blood pressure, diabetes, or high LDL cholesterol are at a higher risk. In addition, being overweight or obese can increase this risk.
Hormonal factors, age, and family history can also significantly affect women’s stroke risk. For example, women who take birth control pills, have hormone therapy after menopause, or are pregnant may be at a higher risk. Speaking with a heart doctor can help you understand the potential side effects of your medications. In addition, they can help you find ways to prevent hormone-related stroke.
Managing these factors and following stroke prevention tips can reduce your risk and help you maintain your health! And for help understanding your current risk, consult with a heart doctor from Cardiovascular Institute of the South. They can encourage stroke prevention methods to help you better protect your health.
Know the Symptoms
The signs of stroke in women are similar to those in men, but women may experience some unique symptoms. The common symptoms of stroke include:
- Numbness or weakness in the face, arms, or legs, especially on one side of the body.
- Drooping of the facial features.
- Confusion or trouble speaking or understanding speech.
- Difficulty seeing in one or both eyes.
- Trouble walking, dizziness, or a loss of balance or coordination.
- Severe headache with no known cause.
These symptoms often come on suddenly. In addition to these symptoms, women may experience some unique, sudden-onset symptoms. These can include face and limb pain, hiccups, nausea or vomiting, shortness of breath, and heart palpitations or rapid heartbeat. Knowing the symptoms of stroke and seeking prompt medical attention can help prevent long-term disability. And, it can even save your life.
A stroke is a medical emergency. If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, call 911 or seek medical attention immediately.
4 Stroke Prevention Tips
It’s important to put positive practices in place now to prevent a stroke in the future. By adopting healthy habits such as regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and managing emotional wellbeing, women can significantly reduce their risk of stroke and improve their overall health. Taking action now can help you avoid the devastating consequences of stroke and enjoy a long and healthy life! Here are four stroke prevention tips to help reduce your risk.
1. Get Moving!
Exercise can help improve overall health and reduce the risk factors that contribute to stroke. Regular exercise can help lower blood pressure, reduce stress and inflammation, and promote better overall wellness. It is recommended that women engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week to maintain good health and reduce the risk of stroke. Activities can include brisk walking, swimming, cycling, or dancing. Consult with your healthcare provider before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have underlying health conditions.
2. Quit Tobacco
Using tobacco increases blood pressure, inflammation levels, and plaque buildup in the veins. These factors can lead to a greater stroke risk or developing other health concerns, including heart disease, lung disease, and cancer. Cardiovascular Institute of the South’s tobacco cessation program provides resources and support to help you quit for good. Our program offers counseling, nicotine replacement therapy, and other tools to help improve your health and reduce your risk of stroke.
3. Take Care of Your Emotional Health
Your emotional health can directly impact your physical health. For example, chronic stress, anxiety, and depression can contribute to high blood pressure and inflammation. Your emotional wellbeing can also affect your sleep and even encourage the development of unhealthy coping mechanisms. Unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, alcohol use, and poor dietary habits can increase the risk of stroke. Managing your emotional health can help reduce these behaviors and promote a healthier lifestyle.
4. Maintain a Healthy Weight With Smart Choices
Not only can excess weight contribute to high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, but it is also a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes. People with this condition are twice as likely to have a stroke and more commonly experience strokes at a younger age. A dedicated exercise routine and healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can help maintain a healthy weight.
Visit a Heart Doctor to Stay on Top of Your Health!
At Cardiovascular Institute of the South, we are committed to helping men and women stay healthy. Our world-class cardiologists prioritize preventing and treating any existing issues related to stroke or heart health. In addition, we provide evidence-based education about risk factors that can help reduce the chances of developing serious conditions in the future. And, our experts can deliver tailored treatments for those living with conditions like stroke.
If you are ready to schedule an appointment with a heart doctor, reach out today. One of our knowledgeable specialists can map out preventative measures and treatment to promote a stroke-free future!