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Stroke 101: What Every Man Should Know About Strokes

Posted 5/5/2017 by UHBlog

Strokes affect men sooner than women, which raises the likelihood of an earlier death or a lifetime of disability. See us to learn how to lower your risks.

Stroke 101: What Every Man Should Know About Strokes

One in 20 Americans will die of a stroke this year. For men, strokes are the fifth leading cause of death and the leading cause of long-term disability. If these statistics surprise you, it's time for "Stroke 101" to learn the causes and symptoms, as well as what you can do to prevent a stroke from affecting you or a family member.

“When it comes to a stroke, every second counts and brain damage can be minimized if treated promptly,” says vascular neurologist Cathy Sila, MD. “That's why every man should be aware of the warning signs of stroke and the medical conditions that can lead to a stroke. If you're the type of guy who doesn’t ignore that red flashing light on your car’s dashboard, then treat yourself just as well. Don’t ignore stroke warning symptoms, and see your primary care provider for a checkup to receive advice and preventive care that will maintain your health and vigor for years to come.”

According to Dr. Sila, many strokes – also known as a brain attack – can be prevented.

“The majority of strokes are the result of atherosclerosis, which is hardening and narrowing of the arteries – a condition that slowly and quietly blocks the arteries leading to the brain, putting blood flow to the brain at risk,” she says. “That’s why it’s crucial to stop atherosclerosis – the same culprit that causes heart attacks and vascular disease – in its tracks through lifestyle changes and proper medication, which research suggests can prevent 85 percent of all strokes.”

The other risk factors that can cause a stroke are:

  • High blood pressure, especially if it's uncontrolled
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Family history of stroke or heart attacks
  • Coronary heart disease, heart failure and/or atrial fibrillation
  • Smoking
  • Age - your risk of stroke increases the older you get
  • Ethnicity - African-Americans are at a greater risk for stroke
  • Prior history of a stroke
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Excessive alcohol or illegal substance abuse

“Strokes can run in families, so if your parents, grandparents, sisters or brothers had a stroke before the age of 55, your genetic makeup requires extra vigilance to make those necessary lifestyle choices that can change your future and reduce your odds of having a stroke,” Dr. Sila says.

Changing your lifestyle can help prevent a stroke. These include:

  • Losing weight if you're overweight or obese
  • Becoming physically active
  • Reducing your stress levels
  • Seeing your doctor for regular checkups
  • Eating a healthier diet

“Exercise is its own medicine,” she says. “A regular exercise program will raise your heart rate and promote good circulation, which makes the cells lining your blood vessels very happy.”

If you’re at a higher risk of having a stroke, make sure you know the five warning signs:

  1. Walk – Is your balance off?
  2. Talk – Is your speech slurred?
  3. Reach – Is one side weak or numb?
  4. See – Is your vision all or partly lost?
  5. Feel – Is your headache severe?

If you have any of these signs, call 9-1-1 right away.

Take these stroke quizzes to learn more about strokes and stroke prevention:

Cathy Sila, MD, is a vascular neurologist and program director, Vascular Neurology at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, and director, Comprehensive Stroke Center at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. You can request an appointment with Dr. Sila or any other doctor online.

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