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How To Identify and Lessen Your Risk of A Stroke

This past Sunday twenty-nine awards were handed out at the Music P.E.I awards party; two of those awards (specifically the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Community Contributor of the Year) were handed to Garnet Buell of Murray River; Buell had performed the night before  at the Murray River Community Hall to raise money for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) Foundation. 

Buell, 84 has had four strokes in the past year and a half, his fourth happened Monday, May 8 when he noticed he was struggling to read the newspaper.

"I couldn't make out what word it was unless I read it real slow, one letter at a time," Buell said in an interview with Maureen Coulter of The Guardian. 

Strokes are the leading cause of adult disability and the third leading cause of death in Canada; killing approximately 14,000 Canadians every year.

While there are factors you cannot control, such as, age, gender, ethnic origin, family history or whether you have had a prior stroke, there are factors you can control. 

Blood Pressure accounts for 35-50% of stroke risk and almost 20% of Canadians have high blood pressure. While you can take medication to lower your blood pressure to a healthy level, there are some natural ways to lower it on your own. An increase in blood pressure is often linked to an increase in weight. Your weight affects your breathing while you sleep which further raises your blood pressure. Shedding just 4.5 kilograms can drastically lower your blood pressure. Along with losing the the weight, exercising 30 minutes five or more times a week can lower your BP by four to nine millimeters of mercury. When losing weight and exercising, it is important to remember that consistency is key in keeping your pressure at a healthy level, once you stop exercising or stop eating healthy, you are at risk of increasing your blood pressure. 

When it comes to your diet, make sure you are eating a lot of whole grains, fruit, vegetables and low-fat dairy and decrease the amount of foods that are high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Sodium is another factor that affects your BP. A small reduction in sodium can reduce BP by up to eight mm Hg. Your goal should be to limit your sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams per day. 

Irregular Heartbeat can also be treated with medication, or by lowering cholesterol, changing your diet or if absolutely necessary, by angioplasty or coronary artery bypass surgery. 

Diabetes patients are two to three times more likely to develop a stroke than those without the disease. 

Obesity obviously increases the likelihood of having a stroke because of its link to diabetes. Particularly those who carry their extra weight in the midsection/hip area are at a higher risk of having a stroke. As previously stated, even dropping 10 kilograms, can decrease your chances. 

Stress/Depression has shown an impact on health as it is linked to high blood pressure, smoking and being overweight, some of the factors that are also linked to triggering a stroke

A good rule of thumb when trying to identify whether or not someone is having a stroke is using the FAST method. FAST stands for Face, Arms Speech and Time. Checking whether the victim suffering from a stroke is very important and something everyone should know. Is the face drooping? Can the individual raise both arms? Is there speech slurred or jumbled? If any of these symptoms are present, you MUST not delay in calling 9-1-1. Call immediately to lessen the side effects of the stroke. 

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