Ways to lower the risk of a stroke

A new study shows that middle-aged women who suffer from depression are almost twice as likely to have a stroke.

However, there are some ways to reduce those odds.

Keven Bellows vowed to take better care of herself after losing her husband to Alzheimer’s.

"I thought if there was anything I can do to prevent that from happening to me, I want to take advantage of it,” said Bellows.

She took her first to a healthier lifestyle with the help of her newly-adopted dog, Rag-a-Muffin. Studies show women who walk three hours a week lower their risk for a stroke by 43 percent.

"There have been a number of studies that show that physical exercise may be the key to preserving healthy brain function,” said David Merrill, professor of psychiatry at UCLA Health.

Watching your diet is another way to cut the risk of a stroke.

"Nutrition is really central,” said Bellows.

Diets filled with olive oil and potassium-rich foods like bananas can lower the risk of a stroke by 20 percent. Quitting smoking and keeping cholesterol and blood pressure at healthy levels can also help.

"The better control you have over the modifiable risk factors, the lower your stroke risk will be,” said Merrill.

High stress levels and anger can cause neck arteries to thicken, which can lead to a stroke.

"I am pretty good about stress reduction because I am a mediator. So, I mediate on a daily basis,” Bellows said.

Be on the lookout for the symptoms of a stroke as well. An uneven smile or numbness in the face can be a telltale sign. Also, look for numbness or even paralysis in the arms and legs. Strokes can also cause slurred or confusing speech.

Once you suspect you have a stroke, there isn’t much time. Call 911 quickly, because every second of time lost can cause harm to the brain.

Doctors urge you to monitor your headaches. Research shows that women who suffer from migraines are at an increased risk of stroke.

REPORT #2016

BACKGROUND: Stroke kills twice as many women as breast cancer every year. However, women in a recent survey believed breast cancer is five times more prevalent than stroke and 40 percent of women said they were only somewhat or not at all concerned about experiencing a stroke in their life. One way to improve the odds for not having a stroke is to learn about the lifestyle changes and medicines that can lower your stroke risk. (Source: www.stroke.org)

RISK FACTORS: Some risk factors are the same for both men and women. For example: smoking, diabetes, being overweight, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, not exercising, and family history. However, there are risks that are unique to women:

* Being pregnant; stroke risk is greater during a normal pregnancy due to natural changes in the body, like blood pressure and stress on the heart.
* Taking birth control pills.
* Using Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), a combined hormone therapy of estrogen and progestin, to relieve menopausal symptoms.
* Having migraines frequently; migraines can increase a woman's risk three to six times, and most Americans who suffer migraines are women.
* Having a thick waist and high triglyceride (blood fat) level; post-menopausal women with a waist size larger than 35.2 inches and a triglyceride level higher than 128 milligrams per liter may have a five-fold increased risk for stroke. (Source: www.stroke.org)

SPECIAL ISSUES: Dr. Dawn Kleindorfer, Assistant Professor of Neurology at University of Cincinnati School of Medicine, says that stroke causes special problems for women. Stroke impacts women uniquely because they tend to be older when they have their stroke. Because of that fact, more women die from stroke than men. Also, women tend to have more disability and have trouble doing the activities of their daily living after their stroke. (Source: www.stroke.org)

For More Information, Contact:

Rachel Champeau
Assistant Director
UCLA Health Sciences Media Relations
(310) 794-2270 or (310) 794-0777

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