Understanding Silent Strokes: Eight Smart Strategies That Can Reduce Your Risk

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Simple lifestyle changes can help prevent silent strokes and protect your cognitive health.

Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Every three to four minutes, someone dies of one. But there’s a related condition that’s even more common, but it gets comparatively little attention: silent strokes.

In this article, we will explore these often-symptomless strokes and share eight smart strategies that can reduce your risk of having one.

What are silent strokes?

Experts estimate that for every stroke that causes symptoms, there are about ten silent strokes in the U.S. Though the effects aren’t immediately apparent—many people will never even know they’ve had a silent stroke unless they get a brain scan for another reason—they can cause real damage and greatly increase the risk of developing serious conditions like dementia.

How do are silent strokes different from typical strokes?

Unlike typical strokes, which often have noticeable symptoms such as sudden weakness, difficulty speaking, or facial drooping, silent strokes can occur without any immediate, obvious signs. Despite their name, silent strokes can have serious long-term effects on brain health, contributing to cognitive decline and increasing the risk of future strokes. Understanding what silent strokes are and how to reduce your risk is crucial for maintaining your health.

You can reduce your risk.

Adopt these eight strategies to protect your health:

1.     Manage blood pressure.

High blood pressure is a leading risk factor for both silent and typical strokes. Regularly monitor your blood pressure and follow your doctor’s advice to keep it within a healthy range. Treatment may include medication, dietary changes, stress management, and regular exercise.

2.     Take steps to keep diabetes under control.

If you have diabetes, maintaining good blood sugar control is essential. High blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels and increase your risk of stroke. Follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations for managing your diabetes through diet, exercise, and medication.

3.     Adopt a heart-healthy diet.

Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help lower your risk of stroke. Reduce your intake of salt, saturated fats, and cholesterol to maintain healthy blood vessels and prevent hypertension.

4.     Stay physically active.

Regular physical activity helps improve cardiovascular health, lower blood pressure, and control weight. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, each week.

5.     Quit smoking.

Smoking damages blood vessels and significantly increases the risk of stroke. If you smoke, seek support to quit. There are many resources available, including counseling, medications, and support groups.

6.     Limit alcohol.

Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can raise blood pressure and contribute to stroke risk. Limit your alcohol intake to moderate levels—up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.

7.     Monitor cholesterol levels.

High cholesterol can lead to the buildup of plaques in the arteries, increasing the risk of stroke. Have your cholesterol levels checked regularly and follow your doctor’s advice to manage them through diet, exercise, and medications if necessary.

8.     Get regular health screenings.

Regular check-ups with your healthcare provider can help identify and manage risk factors for silent strokes. Screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels can identify issues early, allowing for timely intervention.

Silent strokes may not have the dramatic symptoms of typical strokes, but their impact can be just as significant. By understanding the risk factors and taking proactive steps to reduce them, you can protect your brain and maintain your cognitive health. Stay informed, adopt a healthy lifestyle, and listen to your physician to safeguard your well-being.

Education is key when it comes to stroke prevention. Vaughn Greene Funeral Services is proud to offer an array of helpful resources and valuable information. If we can be of assistance in any way, please contact us.

About Vaughn Greene Funeral Services: For more than 25 years, Vaughn Greene Funeral Services has been providing a ministry of care to Baltimore’s African American community. As a leading local, minority- and family-owned provider, we promise to provide our highest level of service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved ones. For more information about our funeral, cremation, memorial, repast, and grief counseling services, please call us at 410.655.0015 or visit us online at https://vaughncgreene.com/.

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