Lower your risks for ‘brain attack’ by adopting a healthy lifestyle, Kelsey-Seybold physician says

Kelsey-Seybold Staff

Houston Police officers respond to heart or stroke-related emergencies every year. Knowing the signs of a stroke and acting quickly can save a person’s life, including your own.

 

Stroke is a disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. Also referred to as a ‘brain attack,’ a stroke occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain is interrupted,” says Puja Sehgal, M.D., a board-certified Family Medicine physician at Kelsey-Seybold’s Downtown at The Shops at 4 Houston Center Clinic. “High blood pressure is considered the number one risk factor for causing strokes.”

 

Other risk factors

Besides hypertension, Dr. Sehgal says other risk factors include:

 

  • Narrowed arteries restricting blood flow
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Diabetes
  • Family history of strokes
  • Advancing age, especially after 55
  • Ethnicity: African-Americans are at higher risk

 

She says a stroke disrupts the flow of blood through your brain, thus damaging brain tissue. The most common type, an ischemic stroke, is caused by a constricted artery usually the result of fat or cholesterol accumulating on artery walls. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel leaks or bursts.

 

Signs of a stroke

If you see or experience any of the following warning signs of a stroke, call 911 immediately:

 

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

 

How to lower your risk

“To reduce your risk of a stroke, following a doctor’s recommendations and adopting a healthy lifestyle are the best steps you can take,” advises Dr. Sehgal, whose recommendations also include:

 

  • Controlling blood pressure
  • Lowering saturated fat in your diet and eating more high-fiber foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Not using tobacco
  • Controlling diabetes
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Exercising sensibly and regularly