Prevent a Stroke Today

October 29 is World Stroke Day. It's our job to prevent strokes.

Posted Oct 28, 2019

Pavlen Shutterstock
Source: Pavlen Shutterstock

Prevent is an active verb.

No one wants to have a stroke.  No one wants their parents, their spouse, their loved-one, or even a stranger to have a stroke.  Dying is one thing.  Trying to live with brain damage, dementia, or disability may be worse.

When someone has a stroke, we tend to think of it as a tragic, random thing.  It is certainly tragic, but it is not random.

Strokes are brain damage from inadequate or interrupted blood flow to the brain. As we age, our heart and circulation ages.  We don't know our health on the inside unless we look.  We traditionally don't look at our circulatory health until after someone has had a stroke.  We do this to prevent a second stroke, but there is no rule that says we can't prevent the first stroke.  That means we have a responsibility to look at our health.

It's not actually hard to do.  You start by having a relationship with a doctor and you start asking questions.  What is the health of my heart?  And how do we know?  What is the health of my arteries?  And how do we know?  What are the rate and rhythm of my heart? Am I having A-fib? And how do we know?  Am I doing everything I need to be doing, or is it time that I do something else? Are the medications I'm taking doing enough? And how do we know?

You can't get the right answers until you start asking the right questions.  You Can Prevent a Stoke, and perhaps more importantly, you should prevent a stroke.

In the U.S. alone there are nearly 800,000 strokes a year that we know about.  Those are the events that are clinically apparent, but there are likely many more strokes that are not readily apparent.

We can damage small areas of the brain without symptoms, or at least without symptoms at first.  These small sub-clinical strokes that come from years of inadequate circulation are what add up to vascular dementia.

It's not entirely clear how the brain ages out of context of how circulation ages.  This is because circulation always ages.  If we do not manage how our circulation ages, time will inevitably take its toll on the brain.  By preventing strokes, we are also working to prevent senility and vascular dementia.

Worldwide, cardiovascular disease is now the leading cause of death.  This is largely a good thing because it means that infectious disease, starvation, and trauma are no longer the most common reasons we die.  But, as we age we don't just have heart attacks and die.  We also have strokes and survive.  It's not enough to live long.  We want to live well.

Prevent a stroke. Start today.