Want to reduce your risk for stroke, especially if you have had a TIA? Here are the key steps.
1. Know Your Family History
A good place to start making healthy changes is evaluating your risk. If a close relative has had a stroke—which Giles’ grandmother did—your odds of having one are increased. Your doctor may want you to take extra precautions to reduce your other risk factors.
2. Manage Your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is the No. 1 risk factor for a TIA and stroke, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). But it’s also a treatable risk factor, Concha says. “If you reduce your blood pressure, you reduce your risk of stroke substantially,” he explains.
Most of the following steps can help keep blood pressure at a healthy level, but regular monitoring of blood pressure—by your doctor, at home or both—is important. If lifestyle changes don’t help, your doctor might prescribe medication.
3. Watch What You Eat
A diet low in fat, cholesterol and sodium and rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein can help reduce blood pressure, Concha says. Many experts recommend the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet, which focuses on these healthy basics and others, including monitoring portion size and reducing sugar intake.
4. Get Moving
Exercise is another proven way to help maintain a healthy weight and manage blood pressure. If your doctor gives you the go-ahead, Concha says, 30 minutes of physical activity every day is recommended. “If you can’t do that,” he adds, “even 30 minutes every other day has been shown to reduce the risk of stroke.”
5. Manage Related Health Conditions
Obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes and atrial fibrillation (an irregular heart rhythm) are risk factors for TIA. Medication often is needed, but diet and exercise also can help manage high cholesterol and diabetes. Regular checkups and screenings are important to stay on track.
6. Quit Smoking
“If you smoke you should stop, because it can reduce your risk of stroke substantially,” Concha says.
There are many programs and strategies to help you kick the habit, which is a smart move for every aspect of your health.
Know the Symptoms and Don’t Delay
As with a stroke, time is of the essence in seeking medical treatment for a transient ischemic attack (TIA). So knowing the symptoms before they happen is essential.
The most common symptoms include sudden onset of:
Vertigo or dizziness
Muscle weakness of the face, arm or leg, usually on one side
Numbness or tingling on one side of the body
Loss of vision or other vision disturbances
Trouble speaking, writing or reading
Confusion or loss of memory
Difficulty recognizing objects or people
Changes in senses such as hearing or touch
Loss of bladder or bowel control
How in the World Do You Stop A Stroke?
Comprehensively. Sarasota Memorial offers the Suncoast region’s only state-certified Comprehensive Stroke Center with the highest level of stroke specialty care. Learn more at smh.com/stroke