May is National Stroke Awareness Month. It’s an annual, month-long promotion initiated by the National Stroke Association and made official with declaration by then-President George H. Bush back in 1989 – and with good reason. Each year, upward of 130,000 Americans lose their lives to strokes. That’s one out of every 19 deaths nationwide. But the most heartbreaking factor among these deaths is that many are fully preventable. In fact, of the 795,000 fatal and non-fatal strokes suffered by Americans each year, some 80 percent could have been prevented.
Cenegenics Jacksonville wants to make sure you know the risk factors associated with strokes and the preventative measures you can take to protect your health. And first among the facts you need to know is that a stroke, contrary to common belief, happens not in the heart, but in the brain. A stroke occurs when the normal flow of blood is interrupted, depriving the brain cells of oxygen. These brain cells can begin to die within minutes, and can lead to lasting brain damage, long-term disability or death.
The reason strokes are so closely associated with heart health is that a leading cause of stroke is atrial fibrillation, a common form of sustained heart rhythm disorder in which erratic electrical signals cause the heart’s upper two chambers to contract rapidly and irregularly. This causes blood to pool in these two chambers, called the atria, rather than being pumped into the lower chambers (the ventricles). A common symptom of atrial fibrillation is blood clots – a major contributing factor in strokes.
Atrial fibrillation can boost your chances of suffering a stroke by five times. Among the risk factors or atrial fibrillation and stroke are:
- Age – being 40 years old or older
High blood pressure
Coronary heart disease
Rheumatic heart disease
Structural heart defects
Sick sinus syndrome
Smoking and other tobacco use
Personal or family history of stroke or TIA
Patent foramen ovale
A few common-sense preventative measures include smoking cessation, avoiding alcohol, adopting a low-calorie, low-salt, low-cholesterol diet that skips saturated and trans fats, and controlling certain health issues such as diabetes and high blood pressure. To help protect your heart and brain health, Cenegenics Jacksonville offers a highly effective stroke prevention program that includes diagnostic testing; customized and physician-directed annual action plans; and periodic cardiovascular evaluations to help keep you on a healthy track. Call 904-674-0404 to schedule a consultation today.