DiscoverHealth

Older woman exercising

Put yourself, health first

Sometimes we skip lunch to run an errand or don’t go to the doctor because we need to drive the kids (or grandkids) to dance class.

Women often think of others before themselves and don’t want to burden their family when they experience symptoms. But when it comes to stroke symptoms, time is of the essence and ignoring warning signs could mean being paralyzed or losing your life.

Common stroke symptoms affecting both men and women include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg.
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding speech.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

In addition, women can experience vague symptoms such as hiccups, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, general weakness, palpitations and pain in their face or limbs.

Can I avoid getting a stroke?

Another way you can start putting yourself first is making your health a priority.

 Two things we can’t control are the leading causes of stroke: Age and heredity. However, lifestyle changes can significantly lower your risk of stroke.

Six ways to lessen your stroke risk:

1. Lower your blood pressure — High blood pressure can double your risk of stroke. Ideal blood press levels are less than 130/80.

How? Avoid high-cholesterol foods like burgers, fried foods or cheese. Eat more fruits, vegetables and fish. Quit smoking.

2. Lose weight — Obesity and complications of obesity can raise your chances of a stroke. Even losing 10 pounds can lower your risk.

How? Incorporate exercise like walking into your daily life. Also watch your diet. Eat no more

than 1,500 to 2,000 calories a day.

3. Exercise more — Exercising can help you lose weight and lower your blood pressure. Your goal should be to exercise at a moderate intensity at least five days a week.

How? Take a walk around your neighborhood, join a workout class with friends or take the stairs!

4. Drink less alcohol — Drinking more than two drinks a day can raise your risk of stroke.

How? Have no more than one glass of alcohol a day and watch portion sizes. The standard drink size for wine is 5 ounces, 12 ounces of beer and 1.5 ounces of liquor.

5. Quit smoking — Stopping smoking is the most powerful lifestyle change to reduce your risk of stroke.

How? Speak with your doctor about quitting. Give up nicotine aids like patches and pills.

6. Control Blood Sugar— Diabetes can contribute to health complications. Get your blood sugar tested and under control.

How? Exercising, controlling your carb intake and losing weight are steps that can help you lower your blood sugar.

Source: The Stroke Association

Know the signs of stroke and “Act FAST” if you experience the following:

F-Face Drooping: One side of the face is drooping or numb

A-Arm Weakness: One arm is weak or numb

S- Speech Difficulty: Speech is slurred or a person is unable to speak or be understood

T- Time to Call 9-1-1: Call 9-1-1 if any of these symptoms occur