Are you aware that May is Stroke Awareness Month? I wasn’t. Steve Jasper, with Gymsource contacted me offering to write a guest post focusing on stroke awareness. While heart disease has been a fear of mine, strokes occur in my family as well. Needless to say, strokes are a concern of mine too.
By Steve Jasper
Although the recent plight of rocker Brett Michaels has been getting more press than May being National Stroke Month, the two are directly related. This makes a great opportunity to talk more about strokes, and how they can be avoided.
Thanks to the pervasiveness of this Information age we currently live in, health concerns and the information surrounding it spread nearly as quickly as the diseases themselves. For example, you probably recall the widespread hysteria in the United States regarding the Swine Flu. While there were no more death tolls than our regular seasonal flu, the sensationalization of the topic kept it in the news for months. While on one hand, the rapid spread of information can be a boon to preventative medicine, the spread of incorrect or inaccurate information can be detrimental, or even harmful.
Thanks to the rapid information delivery of the internet, and the various media outlets reporting on these issues, we know more about heart disease and strokes today than our parents or grandparents ever did. Many of you reading this article may have had a friend or relative- or even yourself- suffer from a stroke. It is important that you first understand what the underlying factors are that cause a stroke, and how you can take steps to prevent one from ever occurring.
Some people naturally have a greater risk of stroke than others. The factors which put you at risk for a stroke fall into two categories: factors you can control, and those which are unfortunately out of your control. Family history plays a large part in determining your level of risk. Women, and people with immediate relatives who have suffered strokes, are both more likely to suffer an attack than other groups. Also, African Americans are at a much greater risk than any other ethnicity. Unfortunately, there isn’t a concrete explanation for why this is true. It could be that due to higher rates of hypertension and diabetes, African Americans exhibit a greater hereditary risk, according to the National Stroke Association. Pre-existing health conditions such as diabetes or hypertension, in addition to obesity, excessive smoking and/or drinking can all multiply your risk of a stroke.
Avoidable Risk Factors:
- Excessive Smoking
- Excessive Drinking
- Hypertension/High Blood Pressure
- Inactive Lifestyle
Unavoidable Risk Factors:
- Age – As you get older, your chances for stroke increase
- Prior Strokes – The chances of suffering a subsequent stroke increases
- Family History – If you have immediate relatives who have a history of strokes.
- Race – African Americans are more likely to suffer from strokes.
While you might not be able to change your heredity, there are measures you can take to help stave off stroke risk. The National Stroke Association estimates that out of the 700,000 strokes that occur each year, 600,000 could have been prevented by simple lifestyle changes. One of the best and easiest prevention tools is to simply employ a good exercise routine.
Generally, when people are asked what their biggest obstacle towards a more active lifestyle is, the most popular answer is “not enough time.” That’s why one of the best ways to stay fit is with home gyms and home aerobics programs. It’s hard to come up with excuses when you have your own workout routine in your basement or garage. In addition to this, many people feel uncomfortable in public gyms for various reasons. It’s no surprise that lifting weights or exercising in your own home is more comfortable than wiping off a stranger’s eerily sweaty stains from the exercise equipment. If you can combine this lifestyle change with others, such as eating better food, drinking less alcohol, and quitting cigarettes, you will dramatically improve your chances for fighting off a stroke.
Unfortunately, all too often, perfectly healthy people succumb to strokes as well. That’s why it is important to be able to recognize the symptoms of stroke. When a stroke occurs, the sooner you act, the better your chances for recovery. Someone suffering from a stroke will exhibit an inexplicable numbness or tingling sensation on one side of their body, slurred speech, blurred vision, and difficulty with motor control.
Sometimes it’s difficult to prevent the things that hinder our health. But like the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. We need to keep doing our part to spread awareness about the risk of strokes. If we can educate the public on how to live healthier lifestyles, then we can succeed in stemming the effects of this nationwide killer.
Steve Jasper is not a medical expert. All of the statistics cited were from the National Stroke Association and the American Heart Association. If you have any serious medical concerns, please consult a qualified medical professional. Steve is a contributing blogger from Gymsource who writes an all topics related to fitness equipment and more.