Topic of the Week
June 26th, 2017
Whenever one reads about cardiovascular diseases, many may not realize that these diseases include stroke. Since a stroke is considered a condition in the brain, most don't understand that it really is related to the cardiovascular system in many ways with respect to both cause and the actual process. A stroke is essentially a brain attack similar to a myocardial infarction (heart attack) of the heart muscle. When a blood vessel providing blood to the brain is blocked in some way (either over time or with a sudden stroke caused by a blood clot), oxygen cannot get to the brain cells and cell death occurs relatively quickly. Indeed, this is the cause of a stroke in nine out of ten cases. The less frequent cause is a bursting of the blood vessels I the brain. As devastating as strokes can be, however, reducing the possibility of a stroke is not all that difficult with a few simple changes in lifestyle.
Since most strokes are related to blood pressure issues (about 80%), keeping blood pressure under control is a must. Reductions in blood pressure are directly related to a reduction in stroke risk in a big way (and also a reduction in heart attacks, of course). This is why a stroke, in many cases, could and should be considered a brain attack. Hypertension, a form of high blood pressure, is, not surprisingly, also a factor in the likelihood of a stroke. Since blood pressure seems to increase with age, regular exercise is a critical part of stroke prevention by its normalizing affect on blood pressure issues. It should also be remembered that in early two out of ten Americans (mostly adults) suffer from hypertension (a sustained blood pressure measurement of 140 over 90 or higher). So getting that blood pressure down, if necessary, is step number one.
Diet and regular exercise also play a large role in stroke prevention. More specifically, controlling sodium intake (usually in the form of salt) and increasing potassium intake to help balance the effects of high sodium levels can all be accomplished by eating more “unprocessed” fruits and vegetables. It has been estimated that most of the sodium that Americans consume comes from processed foods. In addition, dietary potassium levels for most Americans is very low since, sadly, they consume less than five of the suggested nine to eleven servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
As for exercise, reductions in blood pressure can occur with about 30 minutes of comparatively brisk exercise each day (such as brisk walking or even regularly scheduled strength training). The secondary effect of this regular exercise is, of course, a reduction in body weight, which also appears to have a lowering effect on the incidence of stroke. And these suggestions are more important as we age since the risk of stroke increases somewhat dramatically after the age of fifty-five. And it's NEVER too late to start. So don't let a “brain attack” be part of YOUR future.
I'm Dr. Paul Kennedy and that's the “Be Fit, Stay Fit” Topic of the Week. Good luck with YOUR program. I KNOW you can do it!
Originally published on September 02, 2017 by SpeakerMatch Speakers Bureau