When you think of celebrities like Dick Clark, Sharon Stone or Rick James, you probably think of their many talents. What you might not realize is that they all at one time suffered a stroke.
Strokes – or brain attacks – can happen to anyone at any time. Strokes are the leading cause of adult disability in the United States, and the fifth leading cause of death.
“Strokes occur when blood flow and oxygen is cut off to an area of the brain,” says Dr. Terry Bagley, Assistant Medical Director of Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital. “This causes brain cells to die, which then in turn affects the abilities controlled by that part of the brain.”
According to the National Stroke Association, about 800,000 people suffer from strokes every year. What’s notable, however, is that nearly 80 percent of strokes can be avoided.
“Certain traits, conditions and habits can raise an individual’s risk of having a stroke,” Bagley says. “Some of these factors can’t be controlled – like age, family history, gender and race. But many lifestyle risk factors can be controlled and can actually help prevent a stroke from occurring.”
Some of the major risk factors associated with stroke that can be controlled include:
- High blood pressure
- Poor diet
- High blood cholesterol
- Physical inactivity
- Heart diseases
- Alcohol consumption
“If you’re aware of what lifestyle risk factors you have, you can control, treat and improve them to lessen your chances of having a stroke,” Bagley says. For example, Bagley recommends getting regular checkups and following physician recommendations to treat any risk factors. “A healthy diet and regular exercise also can go a long way in preventing a stroke,” he says, “along with minimizing alcohol consumption and eliminating smoking.”
Bagley does recognize, however, that changing behaviors or habits is not always easy -- especially when there haven’t been any negative consequences yet.
“Changing your diet or activity level is a long-term commitment that requires a lifestyle change, so it can be somewhat difficult,” he says. “But if you have any stroke risk factors, the time to change is now, before something negative happens. Remember, the changes you make now can affect what happens – or doesn’t happen – later.”
What is FAST?
Few Americans know the signs of stroke. Learning them – and acting FAST when they occur – could save your life or the life of a loved one. Remember that stroke strikes FAST and you should act fast, too. Call 9-1-1 if any of the following symptoms occur:
Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital is a 44-bed, free-standing rehabilitation hospital that provides specialized physical rehabilitation services to patients recovering from strokes, brain and spinal cord injuries, orthopedic injuries, and other disabilities caused by injuries, illnesses, or chronic medical conditions. The hospital is consistently ranked in the Top 10 percent of inpatient rehabilitation facilities nationally by the Uniform Data System for Medical Rehabilitation (UDSMR).
For more information, visit MVRRH.ernesthealth.com.
3700 N. Windsong Drive • Prescott Valley, AZ 86314 • 928-759-8800