Capital Cardiology Associates
World Stroke Day
Joining together for one day to fight the #2 cause of death in the world
Stroke is a leading cause of death around the world. But that’s just part of the story. 80 million people in the world have had a stroke, 50 million stroke survivors live with some form of permanent disability. The fact is, stroke is largely treatable and with healthy lifestyle changes, starting today, you can reduce your risk of becoming a statistic this year.
Director of Clinical Research, Dr. Robert Benton explains how a stroke event is similar to a heart attack. “Essentially for both of them you have an instance where you’re losing blood flow to a part of the brain or the heart. That is the common finding in both of them. In the heart, usually, this is caused by a cholesterol plaque that has become inflamed, ruptures because you are smoking, or because you have high blood pressure, and there’s a blood clot that forms and blocks blood flow to the heart. When the heart muscle doesn’t get blood, it dies. The brain is similar in that you can have plaque in your brain but the brain is also susceptible to other findings, that would be emboli that fly either from your neck, clotting breaking off from the arteries or the aorta, or one of the common causes of stroke called, atrial fibrillation (AFib).
Causes of Stroke
There are three main areas of stroke risk factors: lifestyle, medical, and uncontrollable. Dr. Benton advises that we work with our doctor to identify our personal risk factors for stroke as we would with heart disease. “Heart attack and stroke can have very similar risk factors that lead to them. Smoking, hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, a sedentary lifestyle… all of those things can contribute to your risk.” Tobacco use and smoking double the risk of stroke when compared to a nonsmoker. Smoking increases clot formation, thickens blood, and increases the amount of plaque buildup in the arteries. “People can have a genetic pre-disposition to stroke: high blood pressure, arrhythmia, cholesterol levels, these things can be genetically programmed. Then you do yourself no big favor by smoking cigarettes, eating a poor diet, not exercising where you can compound your genetic disposition for stroke with poor or bad lifestyle choices. Those two factors really work together,” pointed out Benton.
Prevention Is The Best Cure For Stroke
The good news is, 80% of strokes can be prevented. “Strokes are as preventable as a heart attack and they are actually quite similar,” states Mary Ellen King, Nurse Practitioner at Capital Cardiology Associates. “With heart attacks people know eat a healthy diet, manage cholesterol, exercise and a stroke is the same thing.” Ultimately, regular visits with your healthcare provider will assess and monitor your risk for stroke.
Most importantly if you are over the age of 60 and haven’t been checked for AFib, see your doctor. “Most people with AFib don’t feel it. We find it on an EKG. Or a pacemaker, heart monitor, or they are wearing their FitBit or Apple Watch, whatever it is, they notice their heart rate is jumping all over the place and it’s faster than what it used to be.” Early detection of stroke is the biggest element in prevention. “The time piece of identifying stroke is so important because the longer that part of the brain goes without blood and oxygen supply, the worse the outcome is. Unfortunately, people live through strokes but they can be very debilitating and life altering,” explained King.
Monday, October 29th is World Stroke Day. Join Capital Cardiology and The World Stroke Association in the effort to raise awareness of stroke prevention, treatment and support. Meet with your doctor this fall to discuss your risk of stroke. If you are a stroke survivor, consider connecting with other members, partners, and survivors in the Capital Region by joining organizations involved with local support events.
Written by: Michael Arce, Media Specialist
Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional.