Written by Tawanda Johnson-Gray
The month of May is Stroke Awareness Month. While stroke is the number five cause of death among adults in America, many may not be aware that stroke undeniably is the number one killer of African Americans. The onset of stroke symptoms may occur weeks in advance before the actual stroke occurs. Learning your body and learning to listen to the messages your body is sending is very important in regards to preventing the onset of stroke, or a debilitating stroke.
Warning Signs of Stroke
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or understanding.
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
Stroke and High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
High blood pressure, sometimes referred to as hypertension, is a preventable risk factor of stroke. It is also known as the Silent Killer as there are sometimes no symptoms. High blood pressure makes the heart work more than it should. This over exhaustion of the heart can cause the heart and arteries to become more delicate, which can lead to a hemorrhagic stroke, caused by blood vessels that have burst in the brain.
Blood pressure is measured as two numbers; systolic pressure, which is the pressure while the heart is beating; and diastolic pressure, which is the pressure when the heart is resting between beats. It is very important to know your numbers to assist in gauging if you are in a pre-hypertension or hypertension zone. The risk of high blood pressure increases with age, family history of high blood pressure, excess weight, excess alcohol, and high sodium intake (salt).
Stroke and High Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a soft, fatty substance found in the blood and all the body’s cells. Although cholesterol is a necessity for the body to function, too much is not good for the body. Overproduction of cholesterol can cause a build-up of cholesterol plaque in the arteries that can break off and cause an ischemic stroke (is-Kem-ik), a stroke caused by the blockage of artery. Ninety percent of all strokes are ischemic. Increasing your intake of polyunsaturated fats, such as safflower oil, corn oil, etc; or monounsaturated fats like olive oil, canola oil, etc. can assist in lowering your cholesterol.
If you have been diagnosed with pre-hypertension, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, you can lower your risks by eating a healthy diet, implementing an exercise routine, and controlling your weight.
For more information on stroke go to www.powertoendstroke.org
Tawanda Johnson-Gray is president of Chicago Urban Heart & Stroke, Incorporated.