Prime Time Living - Page 24 - Stroke from page 23

Prime Time Living
- Page 24
Stroke from page 23
carotid arteries in the neck supply blood to the brain. A carotid artery narrowed by fatty deposits from atherosclerosis (plaque buildups in artery walls) may become blocked by a blood clot.

•History of transient ischemic attacks (TIAs).

•Diabetes: It is crucial to control blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Diabetes, especially when untreated, puts one at greater risk of stroke and has other serious health implications.

•High blood cholesterol: A high level of total cholesterol in the blood (240 mg/dL or higher) is a major risk factor for heart disease, which raises the risk of stroke.

•Physical inactivity and obesity: Being inactive, obese or both can increase the risk of high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

•Recent research shows evidence that people receiving hormone replacement therapy (HRT) have an overall 29 percent increased risk of stroke, in particular ischemic stroke.

Risk Factors You Cannot Control

Yes, eventually, age is a factor as the incidence of strokes go up with age, but it can still happen at any age. Men have a higher risk of stroke than women. Family history plays a part, especially if you have an immediate relative who had a stroke – sibling, parent or grandparent. African Americans have a higher risk because they often suffer from hypertension, diabetes and obesity. Last, a history of heart disease makes you more susceptible.

“Baltimore faces a larger problem,” says Dr. Ashley. “Systemically, we have populations here that don’t have a high awareness of what strokes are, how serious they are, and the need for immediate access to care. It’s huge that we’ve improved response time and better technology, but after-care for these illnesses is just as important and we still need to figure that out.”

It’s all about awareness – awareness of the symptoms of stroke so you’re prepared, as McCreary’s and Baranoski’s story shows. Our hospitals are well equipped to help those who have a stroke, but even more important is making sure those around you know what to look for and to call 9-1-1 right away. Take time to educate them. And that will be time well spent. •