Stroke is one of the most common causes of brain and nerve damage and death in our society, and although it can strike anyone, there are steps you can take to lower your risk.
What to look for and what not to overlook can be the difference between life and death when it comes to stroke symptoms. Of course, diet and nutrition is a solid defense, as well as exercise.
Subtle Signs & Symptoms to Consider
Prehypertension – High blood pressure (140/90 and above) can be a silent killer. It creeps up on the unsuspecting and is usually a sign that there are cholesterol and fatty blockages in the arteries. As a result, the heart has to work harder to try to get blood circulated throughout the body. When blood and oxygen cannot get through to the brain, this is when a stroke occurs.
Strokes can cause irreparable damage to nerves, hamper brain and bodily function, and cause partial paralysis. New studies now show that blood pressure readings of 120/80 and above are cause for alarm; this new lower rating is what is known as prehypertension, where stroke risk can be nipped in the bud early on.
If blood pressure is sustained in that region, it is a definite sign that some lifestyle changes should be made to get it back to a “normal” range. To naturally lower blood pressure, try eating foods rich in potassium, magnesium, calcium, vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated fat and fiber.
Leg Discomfort or Pain – Peripheral artery disease (PAD), like high blood pressure, can signal that there are blockages in the arteries. The first sign that you may have PAD is pain in the legs, primarily in the calf region, that may occur with walking. Any blood clots or blockages in the body can travel to other areas in the body or stop blood flow to the brain, so leg pain like this can be a very serious condition and a strong warning that you’re at risk of having a stroke.
Pay attention to all your body’s signals. To improve blood circulation and clear up blockages, you can eat more foods that have little or no cholesterol; spices and herbs like ginger and garlic; a glass or two of red wine daily or more red grapes and berries; foods rich in fiber, folate, potassium, omega-3, and magnesium; foods rich in antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta carotene; and drinking more water, black and green tea.
Sleep Apnea – If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea or you are told that you snort or snore quite a bit in your sleep, your risks for having a stroke increase dramatically by up to 6 times. Sleep apnea is intermittent periods where one stops breathing during sleep.
As breathing is disrupted and blood pressure rises, there are more blood and oxygen blockages that can occur in the arteries, which can cause a stroke. Sleep apnea occurs commonly in obese people and – besides loud snoring – excessive fatigue and sleepiness during the day are other signs to look for. Losing weight is a great defense against sleep apnea. You can start by beefing up your intake of fruits, veggies, whole grain, water and lean meats and cutting out junk food.