“Most women don’t realize that heart disease is the #1 killer of American women.” Monica Potter
I Dare Me Challenge Firsts are about learning, expanding my mind, and personal growth; not just dressing up, trying new foods, or going to new workout classes. Today I decided to enlighten my mind on a topic that I didn’t know much about. So I had a little study session and compiled a quick fact sheet on strokes. Yes, that kind of stroke, the kind that will kill you.
Stroke – occurs when the blood supply to your brain is interrupted or reduced, depriving the brain of oxygen and nutrients, which can cause brain cells to die.
Ischemic stroke – caused by a blocked artery
Hemorrhagic stroke – leaking or bursting of a blood vessel
Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) – temporary disruption of blood flow to the brain
Who is at risk to have a stroke?
Lifestyle risk factors
- Being overweight or obese
- Physical inactivity
- Heavy drinking
- Use of drugs such as cocaine and meth-amphetamines
- Cigarette smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke
Medical risk factors
- High blood pressure —readings higher than 120/80
- High cholesterol
- Obstructive sleep apnea —oxygen level drops during the night
- Cardiovascular disease
- Use of oral contraceptives, hormone replacement therapy, pregnancy
- Personal or family history of stroke, heart attack or transient ischemic attack (TIA)
- After age 55, risk of stroke doubles for every decade that a person is alive
- African-Americans have a higher risk of stroke
- Men have a higher risk of stroke than women, but because women live longer and stroke occurs more often at older ages, women actually have more strokes than men (because they live longer – dang that’s a bummer for making it to the Golden Years)
- Stroke incidence is higher in men at younger ages
- Fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD) is a medical disorder where some of the arteries that carry blood throughout the body do not develop as they should. Fibrous tissue grows in the wall of the arteries, causing them to narrow. As a result, blood flow through the arteries decreases.
- “Hole” in the heart called a patent foramen ovale (PFO). About 1 in 5 Americans has a PFO.
- Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) are serious warning signs of a possible future stroke
- Stroke risk increases if a family member (parent, grandparent, or sibling) has had a stroke or a heart attack at an early age
- Previous stroke
How to prevent a stroke
By identifying your risk factors and making changes to the things that can be changed, like diet and lifestyle.
Medication (statins) is proven effective if you have had previous heart and/or cholesterol issues in the past.
Adults age 75 and older may not need statins
Many older adults have high cholesterol. Their doctors usually prescribe statins to prevent heart disease.
But for older people, there is no clear evidence that high cholesterol leads to heart disease or death. In fact, some studies show the opposite—that older people with the lowest cholesterol levels actually have the highest risk of death.
Statins have risks.
Compared to younger adults, older adults are more likely to suffer serious side effects from using statins.
Statins can cause muscle problems, such as aches, pains, or weakness. Rarely, there can be a severe form of muscle breakdown.
In older adults, statins can also cause:
- Memory loss and confusion
- Nausea, constipation, or diarrhea.
Often, older adults take many drugs. These can interact with statins and lead to serious problems. Side effects, like muscle pain, may increase. Statins can also cause a fatal reaction when taken with heart-rhythm drugs.
Statins may increase the risk of diabetes, cataracts, and damage to the liver, kidneys, and nerves.
Natural alternatives to lower cholesterol
Statins work by reducing systemic inflammation – foods can do that too:
- Mediterranean diet
- Avoid processed and baked goods
- More fatty fish
- No white sugar, rice, bread or potatoes
- Red wine, tea, curry
I am not a doctor or any kind of medical professional. You should consult one to fact-check me on all of these previous statements if you believe you are at risk for stroke. I wanted to speak to a doctor concerning this post but that was a no-go. Healthcare is not very caring, folks. It’s a business. No offense to you if you are a healthcare worker, these are my opinions which I have formed after over 20 years of personal experience with the healthcare industry as it relates to my own care, the care of my children, and my mom. If you are a caring, compassionate practitioner who takes time with patients, Rock ON, baby! But know that you are a rare gem and we (The Royal We), as patients, are often made to feel like you (The Collective You) only care about putting us on meds and swiping that health insurance card as often as possible. Just sayin’.