Many people have a major health concern that causes them to worry. A stroke is a malady that older people (and some younger ones with risk factors) fear because the consequences can be life threatening or cause major and irreversible changes to one’s life. A medical stroke is defined as a loss of blood flowing to a part of the patient’s brain. This can be the result of blood clots or broken blood vessels located in the brain. Among the symptoms of a stroke can be weakness on one side of the body, dizziness, and numbness. There can also be issues with the patient’s ability to talk, write, or ability to understand language.
When a patient is at risk for a stroke they may have untreated or not sufficiently treated high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, older age or even a buildup of plaque or fatty material within the arteries leading and coming from the heart and brain. A family history of strokes can also be a factor in one’s tendency for a stroke.
How can an individual prevent a stroke or cardio-vascular incident? With recent medical advances and tried and true advice, there are many ways to help prevent this serious medical situation. These methods range all along the medical, health, and personal spectrum. Some are relatively easy to accomplish, while others are more difficult. They include:
- Have an annual physical examination with your doctor making sure you discuss any outstanding medical issues.
- Have your doctor discuss medical guidelines for blood pressure control and follow his/her suggestions and advice.
- Attempt to eat less. All food has some calories and cutting the amount you eat can make a difference.
- Lose weight. Depending on what you weigh losing some weight will probably help your stroke prevention and other medical issues you experience.
- Simply put- if you smoke, STOP.
- Exercise- whether or not you already do this on a regular basis or are just starting the physical movement is very helpful and will make a very big difference. If you are starting, start slowly and buildup the time you engage in exercise or physical activity.
- Drink only in moderation. If you enjoy red wine, it has proven to be helpful. Remember that the keyword is moderation.
- If your doctor suggests carotid screening be sure to schedule an appointment and actually keep it.
- If tests determine that you have arterial fibrillation be sure to work with a cardiologist to treat this life-threatening issue.
- Should have concurrent diabetes be sure to keep that under control by following your doctor’s instructions.
- Take all your prescribed medications and supplements, assuring that you do not run out of anything and have a disruption in taking your meds.
- Most importantly if you have symptoms of a stroke immediately call 911. Time is of the essence in getting treatment as soon as possible.
If despite these helpful suggestions you have a stroke how do you work to recover? While there are some proven methods to help hasten your recovery it is a process. Lowering your expectations that you can recover very quickly by doing the work to achieve maximum results. Because every stroke is different as each patient is different what works for one stroke victim might not work as well or at all for another.
One of the best ways to increase the speed and effectiveness of your stroke recovery is to employ neuroplasticity. This process encourages the brain to rewire and reorganize itself after a major disruption to its normal processes. This involves having other areas of the brain be able to “pick up the slack” from the areas disturbed by a stroke. To help this process happen, constant repetition is required. Repeatedly doing key tasks will encourage and hasten this process.
For example, working with a physical therapist and repeating tasks like walking correctly, doing appropriate exercises, meditating, eating a healthy diet, keeping to a good sleep schedule, rehab consistently and intently, and keeping on with the process until you reach full recovery will make a world of difference.
Having a stroke can be a major setback in life but there are ways and professional staff to help you recover and get back to as close as possible to your pre-stroke self.