Strokes are rising among young Black adults — here are 7 ways to prevent them
Strokes are pervasive in this country.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every 40 seconds, someone in this country has a stroke, and every three minutes and 13 seconds, someone dies from one. The neurological event, which is caused either when blood flow is interrupted on its path to the brain or a blood vessel bursts in the brain, is also on the rise among Black young adults.
In a recent study on the prevalence of strokes in young Black adults, the American Heart Association (AHA) found they were experiencing them at four times the rate of their white peers.
The reason for the increase in young Black adults is difficult for experts to pinpoint. However, the AHA said strokes could be caused by chronic stress, high blood pressure, poor diet, a sedentary lifestyle, and family history.
While strokes are rising among younger Black populations, more than 80% are preventable. Several health resources, including the CDC, the AHA, and the American Stroke Association (ASA), have advice on being proactive against these preventable medical occurrences. Below, theGrio has rounded up seven top tips for preventing a stroke.
Know (and manage) your risk factors
Strokes are becoming all too common, meaning risk factors associated with the condition are equally prevalent. According to the ASA, risk factors include family history, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, lifestyle, lack of physical activity, smoking, and a history of heart disease, such as atrial fibrillation, when the heart’s rhythm is irregular. The ASA warns other preexisting conditions that could lead to strokes if not properly managed include diabetes, sleep apnea, and sickle cell anemia.
The ASA recommends understanding your personal risk and making any necessary lifestyle changes. The CDC also encourages regular monitoring of any risk factors, like blood pressure and cholesterol, as going unchecked can lead to numerous conditions, including strokes.
Watch what you eat
There is some solid truth in the old adage, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” According to ASA, diets high in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol can raise blood cholesterol and blood pressure levels — which can, in turn, put you at risk of developing a stroke or heart disease. Diets with high calories can also lead to obesity. However, a diet that contains at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day may reduce your risk of stroke.
Manage your weight
For some, being overweight can lead to a host of medical problems if they are not careful.
There are also many whose weight becomes out of control due to obesity, increasingly considered a brain disorder that causes the body to take on or keep on a certain amount of weight. In addition to obesity itself, weight-related issues can include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and an increased likelihood of a stroke.
Stay physically active
While the method doesn’t always matter, experts agree the body needs to be moved regularly. Currently, the World Health Organization suggests 30 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous physical activity for those who are able. The ASA also recommends at least 75 to 150 minutes of weekly physical activity to prevent strokes.
Smoking cigarettes is good for, well, nothing. Maintaining a regular habit can lead to many deadly diseases, including various cancers, heart disease, and, yes, even strokes. The advice from the ASA and others, as reported in The Washington Post and by the CDC, isn’t simply to limit how much you smoke; it’s to avoid cigarettes altogether.
Limit your alcohol intake
Many believe red wine is good for the heart. While that may be true on some level, it doesn’t mean pounding back the whole bottle (we know — it’s only a handful of glasses!). A high level of alcohol intake can become dangerous for various reasons. Doing so regularly will almost certainly shorten your life expectancy. While being overserved regularly can lead to an increased risk of strokes, that’s not the sole risk; alcohol abuse can also damage many organs, including the liver, heart and kidneys.
Try not to stress
Listen, stress can kill. It’s no stretch of the imagination whatsoever to consider stress harmful to the body. According to reporting by The Washington Post, there are proven ways stress weathers the human body over time, often leading to all sorts of other diseases and complications, including strokes. It’s also not hyperbole to say that Black Americans, already at risk of developing many medical complications at increased rates compared to white peers, deal with a unique level of stress.
Find ways to keep the stress at bay. Develop a meditation or self-care routine, take up yoga, exercise regularly, set boundaries, or even chat with a therapist. Your life and well-being may depend on it.
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