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Take Charge of Controllable Factors to Reduce Your Stroke Risk
On average, a stroke occurs every 40 seconds in the United States. Every four minutes, someone dies of stroke. These are sobering statistics from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, but there is some good news too.
Approximately 80 percent of strokes are preventable, so it is important to understand stroke risk factors, particularly those factors that are in your control.
There’s nothing you can do to change factors like your age, gender, race, family history, or previous incidences of stroke or heart attack, but if any of them increase your risk of stroke, they can be good motivation to learn about what you can do to address controllable risk factors.
Commit to a Healthier Lifestyle
There are steps you can take right away to lower your risk. Get started by talking to your primary care doctor to learn how you can treat or manage controllable risk factors such as:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Heart/blood vessel disease
- Cigarette smoking
- Physical inactivity/obesity/poor diet
- Diabetes mellitus
- Atrial fibrillation
- Sickle cell disease
“Regular exercise and an improved diet, for example Mediterranean diet, will help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce stress, all of which help lower your stroke risk,” said Dr. Christian Schumacher, medical director of the Capital Health Stroke Program and a board certified stroke neurologist at Capital Health. “Making sure you receive adequate treatment for high blood pressure or high cholesterol if you know you have it, quitting smoking and limiting alcohol intake also make a difference, and if you are taking medications to treat a condition that increases your risk of stroke, make sure you take it as prescribed.”
Nationally Recognized Care at Capital Health Stroke and Cerebrovascular Center
The Stroke and Cerebrovascular Center at the Capital Institute for Neurosciences is a major referral center for the treatment of all types of neurovascular diseases, including aneurysms, strokes, arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), arteriovenous fistulas (AVFs), cavernous malformations, carotid artery and vertebral artery atherosclerotic disease, intracranial stenosis as well as Moyamoya disease.
The only Joint Commission certified Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center in the region, Capital Health Regional Medical Center (RMC) in Trenton provides emergency stroke and neurovascular services 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week. RMC was recognized as the best hospital for neurology and neurosurgery in the region in U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals for 2018-19. RMC earned a High Performing rating for neurology and neurosurgery, scoring the highest in the region.
To learn more stroke risk factors and the Stroke and Cerebrovascular Center at the Capital Institute for Neurosciences, visit capitalneuro.org.
If You Think it’s a Stroke, Call 9-1-1
In the event of an emergency, “call 9-1-1” is a common refrain, but when a 911 call is received for symptoms that suggest a patient is having a stroke, Capital Health’s Mobile Stroke Unit (MSU) can be co-dispatched with basic and advanced life support services. In 2017, Capital Health deployed the innovative MSU designed to bring time-critical stroke care to patients at their home, or wherever the MSU is dispatched to assess them. At that time, it was the first unit of its kind in New Jersey, Pennsylvania or the Delaware Valley to go live and only the second on the East Coast.
The MSU features:
- A CT scanner
- Point-of-care laboratory testing
- A specialized team, including a paramedic, critical care nurse and CT technologist
The MSU team conducts critical assessments and works with neurologists, neuroradiologists and emergency room physicians at Capital Health to diagnose and treat patients in the field who are having an acute ischemic stroke. If the patient is experiencing an acute ischemic stroke, our specialized team can initiate intravenous (IV) tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) to help break up the clot while he or she is taken to the hospital for additional care. This saves time and, more importantly, lives.