According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), nearly 800,000 people have a stroke each year – more than 15 percent of those die as a result. The good news is that there are several things you can do to prevent strokes. According to the National Stroke Association, up to 80 percent of strokes are preventable. Here are some things you can do – right now – to lower your risk. First, if you smoke, quit. Smoking is a major risk factor for stroke and quitting can reduce your risk almost immediately. Here are some other ways to lower your risk.
Get more exercise
Exercise lowers your risk for numerous diseases, including stroke. In a study conducted by the University of Alabama, researchers discovered that physical inactivity was associated with a 20 percent increased risk of stroke. Exercise also helps in lowering your blood pressure, considered by many experts to be the single leading risk factor for stroke. If exercise isn’t doing the job, talk to your doctor about other ways to lower your blood pressure.
Just as with exercise, losing weight can lower your risk for many diseases. Researchers at Columbia University found that abdominal obesity was associated with a greater risk of stroke for both men and women, even after adjusting for other risk factors.
Treat diseases that increase your risk
Both diabetes and atrial fibrillation increase your risk of stroke. If you have either condition, talk to your doctor about ways to treat those conditions.
Drink in moderation
Not all ways to reduce your risk are hard work! Drinking alcohol in moderation (1-2 drinks per day) reduces your risk of a stroke. Drink more than that and your risk goes up quickly. Red wine is a good choice as it contains resveratrol, considered by many to protect the heart and brain.
Rehabilitation after a Stroke
If you or someone you love has a stroke, you’ll most likely be told you would benefit from rehabilitation and therapy, which should begin as soon as possible – the sooner therapy begins, the better your chances of regaining lost abilities. Strokes vary widely in severity and your rehabilitation will differ depending on your particular needs. Rehabilitation will help you relearn the skills you may have lost as a result of the stroke and may include:
- Regaining motor skills and mobility through muscle strengthening, balance and coordination exercises, the use of walking aids and perhaps therapy to help with swallowing. This may include technology-assisted treatments such as functional electrical stimulation, robotic technology and noninvasive brain stimulation.
- Therapy for communications disorders including speech, writing, comprehension and listening.
- Psychological assessment and treatment to help you with your emotional adjustment. This may include counseling with a professional therapist or participating in support groups.
- Medications such as anticoagulant medicines to help reduce your risk of a future stoke. Antidepressants are also sometimes used to help ease the trauma of dealing with new realities.
- Alternative therapies, including massage, acupuncture and herbal remedies may also be used.
Most people who have suffered a stroke are able to see at least some level of improvement through therapy. Many continue to improve over a long period of time and others are able to recover fully.
Alden offers a comprehensive stroke rehabilitation program, NeuroStroke™, at most of our facilities and we have great success in helping people achieve their goals.