If you suspect someone is having a stroke, every minute counts! But what I want to talk about instead, are the steps each of us can take, over time, even over years, to help reduce the odds of a devastating stoke. Even small changes in lifestyle can add up to reduced risk.
We can't control all the risk factors for stroke, but we can control a lot of them. If you are obese, have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes, you are at a higher risk for stroke. Work with your doctor to find ways to reduce your risk. You don't have to become Superman or Superwoman. In many cases, even small changes, such as reducing sugar and salt, eating more fruits and veggies, and increasing daily physical activity, goes a long way to cut your risk.
Smoking cigarettes and even constant exposure to tobacco smoke will increase your risk of stroke. If you smoke, do your best to stop. It may take you many efforts to quit, but it can be done. And if you are around people who smoke, ask them to stop for their health — and yours.
Some groups have a higher risk of stroke — African-Americans, for example, are up to four times more likely to have a stroke than non-Hispanic whites. Recently, I've become active in an initiative sponsored by the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association. Called The Power to End Stroke, it's a campaign to raise awareness and unite people to make an impact on the high incidence of stroke within their communities. The website offers lots of help for anyone looking for ways to reduce the risk of stroke for themselves or for their loved ones.
It's in your power to save a life! Take action today to bring down your risks and to educate others about the dangers of stroke.