| Bridgewater Courier News
What is heat stroke?
Borislav Stoev, D.O., Chair, Department of Emergency Medicine, at Saint Peter’s University Hospital, explains heat stroke.
Would you know what the signs and symptoms of a stroke are? Did you know 1 in 4 adults will suffer a stroke in their lifetime? Did you know stroke is the leading cause of death and disability worldwide?
Even with those facts from the World Stroke Organization, many of those strokes could have been prevented by recognizing signs and reducing risk factors. With Oct. 29 being World Stroke Day, Dr. Jawad Kirmani, director of the Stroke & Neurovascular Center at Hackensack Meridian JFK Medical Center Neuroscience Institute, offers ways to reduce risk factors and how to spot a stroke.
“Signs of a stroke include sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the face, arm or leg, drooping of the face, speech problems, vision changes, difficulty walking or keeping balance, and/or an excruciating headache,” Kirmani said. “By recognizing these signs and getting medical attention right away, lives can be saved.”
Even individuals with a low risk of stroke should consider continuing to keep risk factors under control as the World Stroke Organization reports 80% of strokes occur in those with low stroke risk.
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According to Kirmani, lowering your risk of stroke includes:
Controlling hypertension: Hypertension or high blood pressure has no noticeable symptoms. If left untreated it damages the blood vessels and can lead to stroke. More than half of all strokes are associated with hypertension or high blood pressure. Be sure to keep your blood pressure at normal levels (120/80). If you have been diagnosed with hypertension, remember to take your blood pressure daily and if you notice the numbers going up, contact your doctor to have your medication adjusted.
Exercising: By maintaining an active lifestyle, you can lower your risk of stroke. Just 30 minutes of exercise five times a week can reduce your risk of stroke by 25%. Get out there and walk, run, bike or even a brisk cleaning of your home, walking the dog, or raking leaves can significantly reduce your risk.
Maintaining a healthy diet: Even small dietary changes can make a big difference to reducing your stroke risk. By making good food choices to maintain a healthy weight, it can have a domino effect by reducing your blood pressure and lowering your cholesterol, all of which will help you to prevent stroke.
The best diet for stroke prevention is a diet that is mostly plant-based with small amounts of meat and fish and less salt. This diet has been described as a “Mediterranean Diet” and there is a large body of evidence to support its benefits for cardiovascular health and stroke prevention. Also, the DASH diet, a low sodium eating plan that’s packed with fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy, reduces the risk of some strokes by 14%.
Controlling your weight: Being overweight is one of the top 10 risk factors for stroke and is associated with almost 1 in 5 strokes. Being categorized as overweight increases your risk of stroke by 22% and if you are obese that risk increases by 64%. This is because carrying too much weight increases your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes which all contribute to higher stroke risk.
Quitting smoking and lowering alcohol consumption: If you smoke cigarettes, you know what you need to do. Nothing will help you prevent a stroke more than quitting. If you drink, keep it moderate (that’s no more than two drinks a day for a man, no more than one a day for a woman).
Reducing stress: Approximately 1 in 6 strokes are linked to mental health. Depression and stress are linked to almost two times a greater risk of stroke and TIA (mini strokes), particularly in adults who are middle-aged and older. Although a certain amount of stress is unavoidable, studies suggest that stress contributes to high blood pressure. By managing stress with exercise, relaxation techniques and counseling, if needed, stroke risk may be reduced.
Dr. Jawad Kirmani is director of the Stroke & Neurovascular Center at JFK Medical Center. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Kirmani, call 732-321-7000 ext. 68169.