Facts About Strokes and How You Can Prevent It
A health article by Dr. Larry Morgan, neurologist and system medical director of neurocritical care and stroke at Bronson.
During May’s Stroke Awareness Month, I want to highlight a few facts about strokes and what you can do to help prevent a stroke.
What is a stroke?
A stroke is a medical emergency and can happen to anyone, at any time, at any age. It’s caused by one of two reasons:
1. A lack of blood flow to the brain caused by a blockage/clot.
2. Bleeding from a rupture of a blood vessel.
How to Prevent Stroke
Prevention starts with controlling risk factors. In fact, 80 percent of strokes can be prevented through healthy lifestyle changes such as the ones listed below:
Keep chronic health conditions under control. Know your numbers and work with your healthcare provider on lifestyle changes and medicine so they are properly managed. This includes:
- High blood pressure
- Irregular heartbeat
If you smoke, quit.
- Studies show that for every five cigarettes a person smokes each day, the risk of having a stroke goes up by 12 percent.
- For Black adults, smoking cigarettes more than doubles the risk of stroke compared to never smoking.
- The risk of stroke drops by 25 to 30 percent for people who are active on a regular basis.
- Exercise has been shown to lower cholesterol, help maintain a healthy weight, and lower blood pressure – all factors that can reduce stroke risk.
- Nutrition is more important than weight loss when it comes to lowering your risk of stroke.
- Prioritize eating a lot of fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy, whole grains, fish and nuts.
- Cut back on foods high in saturated fats, cholesterol and trans fats.
Strokes can affect different groups of people much more than others. Being aware of these different risk factors helps us provide equitable care to our patients.
Women: Stroke Risk Compared to Men
- Stroke kills more than twice as many American women every year than breast cancer.
- More women than men die from stroke and the risk is higher for women due to longer life expectancy.
- Women suffer greater disability after stroke than men.
- There has been an increase in stroke in women ages 45 to 54. This is mainly due to increased risk factors and not knowing how to reduce risk.
Black/African Americans: Stroke Risk Compared to White Americans
- The risk of stroke is nearly double.
- More severe impairment as a result of a stroke.
- Twice as likely to die from a stroke.
- High incidence of risk factors for stroke includes hypertension, diabetes, obesity, smoking and sickle cell anemia.
Hispanics: Stroke Risk Compared to White and Black Americans.
- Higher risk of stroke for all types of strokes and TIA at younger ages.
- Hispanic immigrants are less aware of stroke symptoms than black and white Americans.
- This increases the risk of having an undetected stroke.
Know the Signs & What to Do:
Did you know?
The Joint Commission has certified Bronson Methodist Hospital as a Comprehensive Stroke Center (2017 - present) and Bronson Battle Creek as Acute Stroke Ready (2021 - present).
Strokes can be treated across the entire Bronson system. No matter which Bronson hospital someone chooses, emergency teams are prepared to diagnose a stroke and begin immediate treatment to reduce the severity of a stroke and improve recovery. If needed, Bronson Battle Creek, LakeView and South Haven will transfer stroke patients needing advanced care to the Comprehensive Stroke Center at Bronson Methodist Hospital.