With June being Stroke awareness month.  let's go through  some facts  that will help  us change our lifestyle in order to prevent the incidence of stroke. I say we,  because  high blood pressure runs in my family leaving me with no option but to monitor this factor closely. Undiagnosed high blood pressure or high blood pressure that is not monitored appropriately can be your risk for having a stroke.  It is estimated that 1.6 million Canadians are living with heart disease or the effects of a stroke and six million Canadian adults, or one in five, have high blood pressure as cited by the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to your brain is interrupted or reduced. This deprives your brain of oxygen and nutrients, which can cause your brain cells to die.
A stroke may be caused by a blocked artery (ischemic stroke) or the leaking or bursting of a blood vessel (hemorrhagic stroke). Some people may experience only a temporary disruption of blood flow to their brain (transient ischemic attack, or TIA).  Stroke is a leading cause of death and severe, long-term disability. This should be no surprise with the increase of  alternative medicine, wellness,  fitness coaches and products offering the optimal choice of changing your life expectancy.  It is slick marketing, relaxed regulations, and scientific illiteracy,  claiming the failures of  mainstream medicine? The most common narrative  that I hear when individuals are looking for answers is that they turn to alternative medicine  because mainstream medicine has failed them. But  not everyone can afford alternative medicine or personal  trainers, so let’s put you at an advantage by increasing your health care literacy.

As your health care advocate, I can’t explain how important it is to be literate about your health.   If you find yourself with a chronic illness such as diabetes, cholesterol, and  or high blood pressure  your risk for stroke increases as well.  In order to create awareness and make the necessary changes   we can’t ignore the fact that their are some risk factors that we can’t  change  such as  Age,  gender, race, or  family history. So what will you do with this information?  Generally as you  age this puts you at risk for health complications however poor or good  lifestyle options  can change this factor along with the right knowledge.  It  has been stated that women are more likely to suffer from strokes than men. Is this factor true? This is  cited by the heart and stroke foundation. Whether you are a man or a women being, aware of the signs or symptoms that your body is giving you, will be your best defence in seeking professional help. I am a firm believer in utilizing   our free healthcare system to investigate your concerns first before seeking alternative choices.  

It has been cited by the Heart and Stroke Foundation  that their are some risk factors that can be changed treated or controlled:
  • High blood pressure — High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke and the most important controllable risk factor for stroke. Many people believe the effective treatment of high blood pressure is a key reason for the accelerated decline in the death rates for stroke.

  • Cigarette smoking — In recent years, studies have shown cigarette smoking to be an important risk factor for stroke. The nicotine and carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke damage the cardiovascular system in many ways. The use of oral contraceptives combined with cigarette smoking greatly increases stroke risk.

  • Diabetes mellitus — Diabetes is an independent risk factor for stroke.  Many people with diabetes also have high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and are overweight. This increases their risk even more. While diabetes is treatable, the presence of the disease still increases your risk of stroke.

  • Carotid or other artery disease — The carotid arteries in your neck supply blood to your brain. A carotid artery narrowed by fatty deposits from atherosclerosis (plaque buildups in artery walls) may become blocked by a blood clot. Carotid artery disease is also called carotid artery stenosis.  

  • Peripheral artery disease is the narrowing of blood vessels carrying blood to leg and arm muscles. It's caused by fatty buildups of plaque in artery walls. People with peripheral artery disease have a higher risk of carotid artery disease, which raises their risk of stroke.

  • Atrial fibrillation — This heart rhythm disorder raises the risk for stroke. The heart's upper chambers quiver instead of beating effectively, which can let the blood pool and clot. If a clot breaks off, enters the bloodstream and lodges in an artery leading to the brain, a stroke results.

  • Other heart disease — People with coronary heart disease or heart failure have a higher risk of stroke than those with hearts that work normally. Dilated cardiomyopathy (an enlarged heart), heart valve disease and some types of congenital heart defects also raise the risk of stroke.

  • Sickle cell disease (also called sickle cell anemia) — This is a genetic disorder that mainly affects African-American and Hispanic children. "Sickled" red blood cells are less able to carry oxygen to the body's tissues and organs. These cells also tend to stick to blood vessel walls, which can block arteries to the brain and cause a stroke.

  • High blood cholesterol — People with high blood cholesterol have an increased risk for stroke. Also, it appears that low HDL (“good”) cholesterol is a risk factor for stroke in men, but more data are needed to verify its effect in women.

  • Poor diet — Diets high in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol can raise blood cholesterol levels. Diets high in sodium (salt) can contribute to increased blood pressure. Diets with excess calories can contribute to obesity. Also, a diet containing five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day may reduce the risk of stroke (PDF opens in new window).

  • Physical inactivity and obesity — Being inactive, obese or both can increase your risk of high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. So go on a brisk walk, take the stairs, and do whatever you can to make your life more active. Try to get a total of at least 30 minutes of activity on most or all days.

    If you are not sure about what you should be doing next  as your Healthcare advocate, I am available to help you navigate the health care system with ease.  
    With my 15 years of  experience in Nursing, I have found that one’s ethnicity does play a role in their increased incidence of  chronic illness. Afro-Caribbeans and South East Asians and hispanics have been cited to be at  a greater risk than Caucasians for certain chronic illnesses and this is partly because these races  have a  higher risk  of high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.  

    This information is also to help you be at your best not only for yourself but for your entire family. Knowledge is power, only once applied. If  you have a person in your life that has high blood pressure, diabetes or cholesterol you should also be aware of the signs of stroke, this is important in helping someone you know receive medical attention sooner which can make a difference in the severity of the complications.


    • Check Blood pressure routinely know your numbers 120/80 is the norm but that may not be your norm

    • If you have diabetes, monitor your own blood sugar routinely by having a accurate acucheck machine in your home. This will make you proactive in understanding right away if changes need to be made in your daily routine.

    • If you have cholesterol make it a point to have routine blood work taken

    Understanding both the medical and or preventative measures that is relevant to keeping you at your best will keep you on top of your healthcare needs. Lack of knowledge is the worst disease of all, let's work together to change this.

    The most common health issues faced by employees fall into one of three categories: psycho social, physical environment and health risks, Michelle is also available to speak at your next event LEARN MORE




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