DEAR MAYO CLINIC: A month ago, a family member had a stroke. I am 45 years old and maintain a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise and a good diet. What steps can I take to make sure this doesn’t happen to me?
ANSWER: Once it occurs when the blood supply to a part of the brain it is disrupted or significantly reduced, depriving the brain tissue of oxygen and nutrients and causing the death of brain cells.
Stroke has several common causes. A common cause is the narrowing of the arteries in the neck (the carotid arteries) that carry blood to the brain. This narrowing occurs due to fat deposits in these arteries. A tear or injury to the wall of a blood vessel, for sure heart conditions and blood clotting disorders can also cause strokes, especially in younger people. If any of these conditions are identified, treatment and prevention should be directed to that particular condition.
Under some conditions, the optimal approach to stroke prevention is not true. For example, many people have carotid artery narrowing, but are asymptomatic.
The Mayo Clinic is leading a multicenter study looking for the best treatment for this problem. This study, the Carotid Revascularization and Medical Management Study for Asymptomatic Carotid Stenosis, or CREST-2, seeks to identify the best treatment for stroke prevention in those who have carotid artery asymptomatic constipation. To date, more than 1,800 participants have registered.
For approximately 35% of people who have a stroke, a specific cause cannot be identified. This is called a cryptogenic trace. If this is your situation, the goal should be to work with your primary care physician or neurologist to identify risk factors for stroke that can be modified and, if possible, reduce the risk in these areas.
Some stroke risk factors cannot be changed. For example, gender, ethnicity, age, and family medical history play an important role in stroke risk. Men are more likely to have a stroke than women. Asians and African Americans are also at greater risk. After age 55, the risk of stroke doubles every decade.
Focusing on modifiable stroke risk factors it can have a big impact. For example, a variety of treatable medical conditions can significantly affect the risk of stroke. People with high blood pressure, high cholesterol or uncontrolled diabetes have a higher risk of stroke. If you have any of these conditions, talk to your healthcare provider about developing an effective treatment plan. If you have high levels of low-density lipoproteins, also called LDL or “bad” cholesterol, for example, taking a drug with statins can reduce not only your cholesterol, but also your risk of stroke.
In addition to managing any underlying medical condition, lifestyle choices can help. Mention that you exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet. Both are important. Exercise can lower blood pressure, increase the level of high-density lipoprotein or HDL or “good” cholesterol, and improve blood vessel and heart health. It can also help you lose weight, control diabetes and reduce stress. A good goal is to participate in at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity most days.
A diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in cholesterol and saturated fats can reduce the risk of stroke and help you maintain a healthy weight. This is important, because being overweight contributes to other stroke risk factors, such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Other changes that can be made in stroke prevention include quitting smoking and keeping alcohol intake to less than one to two drinks a day.
Depending on your medical history, preventative medications may also be appropriate. Antiplatelet drugs, such as aspirin or clopidogrel (Plavix), may make your blood less likely to clot. Anticoagulant medications, such as heparin or warfarin, can help prevent strokes if you have certain heart problems or a blood clotting disorder.
The bottom line is that you can take steps to reduce the risk of stroke. But the specific measures right for you depend largely on your medical history. Talk to yours reference professional on the stroke prevention approach that best suits your situation.
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Citation: Q and A: 21st Century Stroke Prevention Strategies (2021, May 25) Retrieved May 25, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-05-21st-century-strategies.html
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