Prevent Heart Disease Through Healthy Lifestyle
By Amy Morgan
Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, according to the American Stroke Association, which designates May national Stroke Awareness Month.
Strokes are caused when a blood vessel that carries oxygen to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. The part of the brain that doesn’t get the blood it needs begins to die due to lack of oxygen. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize their blood vessels are clogged (known as atherosclerosis) until they have some sort of serious event like a stroke or heart attack. By the time they suffer a stroke, they’ve probably spent years developing cardiovascular disease.
Matthew Cross, M.D. has spent 17 years as an Emergency Physician, the last six at Physicians Premier, a free-standing emergency room located west of Highway 281 on Highway 46 near the HEB Plus. He emphasizes it’s important to know the symptoms of a stroke so you can take quick action.
Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body.
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.
If you experience any of these symptoms, call an ambulance or a friend to take you to a trained emergency medicine physician who is practiced in deciphering the signs of stroke and can administer medicine to dissolve the clot or reduce blood pressure immediately. The physician will be able to conduct a physical exam, take vital signs and blood work, and order EKG and CT scans (all available on-site at Physicians Premier) to diagnose if someone is indeed having a stroke or if something else, like a migraine, is just mimicking the symptoms.
Get things checked out as soon as you notice symptoms, Dr. Cross says. “If you wait because you ‘think it’s nothing,’ you’ll be out of the treatment window of the first few hours,” he cautions. While treatments are available to halt or lesson the effects of a stroke, the best way to treat a stroke is to prevent it, Dr. Cross says. Make a plan to incorporate more exercise and nutritious, fresh foods into your daily routine. When it comes to stroke prevention and future longevity, exercise, a healthy diet and sleep are better than any pill doctors can prescribe.
Dr. Cross recommends getting 45 minutes of exercise in zone two, three times a week. People working out in zone two will still be able to have a conversation, he adds. He suggests varying types of exercise to stimulate the brain in different ways. Walking or running provide aerobic exercise, Zumba or pickleball require core stability, while weight training develops muscle mass and prevents bone density loss.
See your primary care physician regularly to check your insulin, sugar level, A1C, cholesterol and blood pressure, Dr. Cross recommends. He noted a new ApoB lipoprotein indicator is more accurate that the traditional LDL/HDL test at detecting the harmful cholesterol that causes cardiovascular disease. “It can tell you if you are headed in the wrong direction,” he said.
Physicians Premier allows patients to access the care they need when they need it, saving time, money, alleviating concern and allowing for a healthier patient and community. Find them at MDpremier.com.