THURSDAY, Dec. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Maintaining a healthy
lifestyle can cut your risk for first-time stroke by 80 percent,
according to new guidelines from the American Heart Association and
the American Stroke Association.
Also, as more Americans use hospital emergency departments for
primary health care, ER doctors are in a position to identify those
at high risk for stroke, make referrals and begin preventive
therapy, the guidelines point out.
The recommendations, updated for the first time since 2006, are
published in the December issue of
As the U.S. population ages and obesity increases, more strokes
are occurring -- 795,000 a year, 77 percent of them first-time --
but deaths from stroke have decreased, experts say.
"There has been about a 30 percent decrease in stroke-related mortality," said Dr. Larry B. Goldstein, director of the Duke Stroke Center in Durham, N.C., and lead guideline author.
"We think a good part of the reduction is due to improved prevention," he said.
A healthy lifestyle, which includes not smoking, maintaining a
healthy weight, exercising and eating a diet rich in fruits and
vegetables, has the biggest impact on preventing stroke, Goldstein
"There is nothing we are going to do in medicine to beat that," he said.
Keeping cholesterol and blood pressure low are also important
for reducing stroke risk, Goldstein added.
The guideline authors address the whole stroke spectrum:
ischemic stroke, which involves a blocked blood vessel in the
brain; non-ischemic (hemorrhagic) stroke, in which a ruptured
vessel bleeds in the brain; and transient ischemic attack (TIA), a
temporary stroke that can be an indicator of risk for a more
Prevention of each type of stroke is basically the same,
Goldstein stated. "People need to take charge of their own lives,"
he said. "The best way to treat a stroke is never to have one."
Other prevention-related information included in the
Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States
after heart disease and cancer, and a major cause of
Dr. Ralph L. Sacco, professor and chairman of neurology at the
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and president of the
American Heart Association, agrees with the emphasis on healthy
lifestyles for preventing both heart disease and stroke.
"The heart association is focusing on what we call 'Life's Simple 7,'" he said. "The seven key health factors that can improve people's health."
These include controlling blood pressure, blood sugar and
cholesterol, in addition to exercising, eating healthfully, not
smoking and maintaining a healthy weight, he said.
"We, as Americans, need to take control of our health," Sacco said.
For more information on stroke, visit the
U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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