When you think of celebrities like Dick Clark, Sharon Stone or Rick James, you probably think of their many talents. What you might not realize is that they all at one time suffered a stroke.

Strokes – or brain attacks – can happen to anyone at any time. Strokes are the leading cause of adult disability in the United States, and the fifth leading cause of death.

“Strokes occur when blood flow and oxygen is cut off to an area of the brain,” says Dr. Michael Fuentes, Medical Director of  Corpus Christi Rehabilitation Hospital. “This causes brain cells to die, which then in turn affects the abilities controlled by that part of the brain.”

“Changing your diet or activity level is a long-term commitment that requires a lifestyle change.”

According to the National Stroke Association, about 800,000 people suffer from strokes every year. What’s notable, however, is that nearly 80 percent of strokes can be avoided.

“Certain traits, conditions and habits can raise an individual’s risk of having a stroke,” Fuentes says. “Some of these factors can’t be controlled – like age, family history, gender and race. But many lifestyle risk factors can be controlled and can actually help prevent a stroke from occurring.”

Some of the major risk factors associated with stroke that can be controlled include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Poor diet
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Physical inactivity
  • Obesity
  • Heart diseases
  • Alcohol consumption

“If you’re aware of what lifestyle risk factors you have, you can control, treat and improve them to lessen your chances of having a stroke,” Fuentes says. For example, Fuentes recommends getting regular checkups and following physician recommendations to treat any risk factors. “A healthy diet and regular exercise also can go a long way in preventing a stroke,” he says, “along with minimizing alcohol consumption and eliminating smoking.”  

Fuentes does recognize, however, that changing behaviors or habits is not always easy — especially when there haven’t been any negative consequences yet.

“Changing your diet or activity level is a long-term commitment that requires a lifestyle change, so it can be somewhat difficult,” he says. “But if you have any stroke risk factors, the time to change is now, before something negative happens. Remember, the changes you make now can affect what happens – or doesn’t happen – later.”

 

Corpus Christi Rehabilitation Hospital provides specialized physical rehabilitation services to patients recovering from disabilities caused by injuries, illnesses or chronic medical conditions. The hospital has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for its Stroke Rehabilitation program. For more information, visit CCRH.ernesthealth.com.

5726 Esplanade Dr • Corpus Christi, Texas 78414 • (P) 361.906.3700 • (F) 361.906.3797