How to Help Prevent a Stroke

Posted by: The Bristal

Dear Maryellen,

My mother died from complications of a stroke just last year. Dad lives with us now, and I am terrified that the same may happen to him, and that we’ll have to put him in long-term care or something. What do you know that can maybe help us prevent this from happening? Any suggestions at all would be welcomed. Thanks! -Isaac

Dear Isaac,

I appreciate your concern. I can hear it in your words, but strokes often come completely out of the blue, perplexing clinical professionals even to this day, despite all that has been learned. With so many variables and unknowns at play, complete prevention is a high bar to reach. But every day we understand a little bit more about indicating factors that can be better managed — such as blood pressure and other cardiovascular issues — as well as how certain changes in lifestyle can help. Here’s a gem I recently came upon. Does your dad get enough exercise?

It sounds basic, I know, Isaac, but so many conditions can be regulated and often avoided altogether if we just got off the couch more often and put our bodies through some moderate to heavy exercise — being careful and conscious, of course, to safety and our physical limitations. But joint researchers from Columbia University and the University of Miami recently published how the risk of small brain infarcts, or so called “silent strokes,” was 40% lower in seniors who were, on average, over 70, and who reported high levels of physical activity. Adjusting for demographic and cardiovascular risk factors, the results indicated that intense activities such as racquetball, tennis, jogging and hiking significantly lowered the appearance rates of these small brain infarcts, which are areas of dead tissue resulting from lack of blood supply.

Now, you and our readers need to be careful with this information, Isaac, because the study specifically mentions heavy or “intense” exercise as showing the best results. Be sure to consult with his doctor before you prepare your dad to take up racquetball or start hiking any mountains, especially if he never or rarely exercises. You won’t want to cause any other health issues in your quest for avoiding a stroke. Thanks for the smart question, Isaac; I’m sure many will be able to relate.

In closing, friends, I find myself blogging more and more about the benefits of leading active, and not sedentary, lives; so, I hope folks are taking this great advice to heart. Get up… get going… and get moving!

Maryellen McKeon


Source: ALFA Online, 6/14/11

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