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Leading A Healthy Lifestyle Reduces Stroke Risk In Women

It’s long been recognized that leading a healthy lifestyle makes for a longer life in general, but new studies have found that by being more conscious of the decisions that women make regarding their health they could reduce the risk of stroke as well. In the past smoking has played a large role in the rise of risk for stroke in women, and while this is still true, researchers say that it is actually exercise and proper nutrition that will keep you healthy enough to lower your risk of stroke, rather than whether or not you have been involved in tobacco use.


The Risks Involved With Strokes


In the United States alone, there are more than 790,000 people who have a stroke, and it has become the fourth leading cause of death, affecting 130,000 citizens each year. It’s been long recognized that obesity, high alcohol consumption, and smoking are large factors in whether or not a stroke will occur, and while this is still true, a research team lead by Dr. Susanna C. Larsson from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden have shown that healthy eating and regular exercise can reduce stroke risks even if the above is prevalent. Dr. Larsson is quoted by Medical News Today in saying: "Because the consequences of stroke are usually devastating and irreversible, prevention is of great importance. These results are exciting because they indicate that a healthy diet and lifestyle can substantially reduce the risk of stroke, and these are lifestyle choices that people can make or improve."


To make their case, the research crew followed 31,696 women with an average age of sixty, who were involved in the Swedish Mammography Cohort. Women were asked to complete a survey which gave personal information about exercise habits and their nutrition on a daily basis. At the time that the study commenced, women had no cardiovascular diseases and were cancer free.


Following The Study


After the completion of the 350 question survey, women were followed over a period of ten years to see what health factors were influencing the risk that these women might have a stroke. There were five main factors monitored including diet, smoking, drinking alcohol, exercise, and weight. Of the women monitored, 589 followed all five health rules, while 1,535 followed none, and the remainder only followed two or three of the factors, but not all. What they found was that by following all five rules, patients reduced their stroke risk by 54%. The AHA Journals explain: “In most instances, a heart attack or stroke is caused by a small blood clot lodged within a blood vessel leading to either the heart or brain. The lack of blood (and oxygen) causes injury, which increases steadily over time; therefore, prompt recognition and medical treatment are of utmost importance.”


The warning signs for strokes include numbness of face or limbs on one side, sudden headaches, difficulty speaking, dizziness, and a loss of vision in one eye. These can be contributed to high blood pressure or cholesterol, diabetes, genetics, age, birth control, prior strokes or a prior heart attack, gender, and ethnicity.


Preventing Stroke In Women Must Start Early


Due to this study and others like it, doctors are beginning to warn women earlier and earlier about the risks of stroke and what they can do to prevent it. The younger women are when they begin taking better care of themselves to reduce these risks the better chance there is that they will lead long and healthy lives. This includes the number of factors that were mentioned above such as performing regular exercise on a daily basis, eating meals that include nutritious foods to incorporate valuable vitamins and nutrients into the diet, monitoring weight and BMI, and of course not smoking or drinking excessively in a way that could damage body functions and cause other complications. Kathleen Doheny of Web MD expresses: “Here's why all that is important: An estimated 6.8 million persons in the United States have had a stroke, 3.8 million of whom are women, according to the summary. Women have poorer recovery and worse quality of life than men after a stroke.”


Some medical teams have begun to assemble learning opportunities for younger women, bringing information into schools and hosting workshops at hospitals and other locations so that there is a better chance of understanding what is required to live a healthy lifestyle that will reduce risks of stroke in the future.


Although there is no way of knowing whether or not a stroke will occur at some point in a man or women’s lifetime, these healthier habits do certainly give a far better chance at getting through life without one. Stroke.org states: “If given within three hours of the first symptom, there is an FDA-approved clot-buster medication that may reduce long-term disability for the most common type of stroke. There are also two other types of stroke treatment available that might help reduce the effects of stroke.”


With that being said, even the healthiest of women can still have health problems, including strokes, so it’s important to recognize the above mentioned signs and symptoms, and to remember other preventative measures that could assist in reducing chances for an occurrence of this kind. The first step is speaking with your doctor about your chances of having a stroke, what steps should be taken for your lifestyle and whether or not there are any medications or supplements you should be taking to assist in the prevention of a stroke.

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