Don’t Stroke Out

You’re 34 weeks into your pregnancy, and you can’t tie your shoes. You haven’t seen your feet from a standing position in two months. You feel like your uterus is going to fall out any day now, and this kid inside you is training for soccer with your ribs. You haven’t been able to walk up the stairs without taking a break in five months. You wake up one day and find that your face looks like Jabba the Hutt’s. Your heart is racing and you have a headache rivaling your worst party-like-a-rockstar hangover.  Pre-eclampsia, or pregnancy induced high blood pressure, is the culprit. You have a C-section, and all is well in the end. At least, you think it is.

You are now twice as likely to have a stroke within the next fifteen years. You might say to yourself, “But I had a child at 24, how is that possible?” The medical gurus at Duke University have a study that backs it up. Another study in Baltimore, Maryland showed that mothers having pre-eclampsia were 60% more likely to have a stroke in the years after their pregnancy. Most moms worry, and now you have something new to worry about. Let’s talk prevention.

According to the Mayo Clinic these are the things you can do to help prevent a stroke:

  1. If you want to look at some more natural methods, Dr. Andrew Weil has an informative website that leans more toward the holistic/natural realm. One recommendation that I particularly like is that you eat plenty of garlic to keep those fatty deposits in your arteries from forming. Don’t smoke. If you do smoke, quit.
  2. Eat your fruits and veggies.
  3. Consume alcohol in moderation. Yes, you can drink two drinks or less per day.
  4. Get off the couch and onto the treadmill (or go for a walk). Do this at least five days a week.
  5. Lower your cholesterol and limit saturated and trans fats.Signs of a Stroke diagram: Face, Arm, or Legs: Numbness or weakness (mainly on one side of the body). Brain: Confusion, trouble talking or understanding speech, dizziness, loss of balance, bad headache. Eyes: Trouble seeing in one or both eyes. Stomach: Throwing up (or urge to). Body: Feel tired. Legs: Trouble walking.
  6. Control your blood pressure. It’s generally good to know your blood pressure, and if it’s over
  7. Don’t do drugs. Cocaine and meth both cause strokes.

We often leave ourselves last on the list when it comes to taking care of families, significant others, and jobs. In the hurry-flurry of our lives, we forget that we are better at taking care of all those things and people when we are healthy. Perhaps we can all take some time to eat garlic, and have a cocktail. After all, we are helping to prevent strokes.

6 replies on “Don’t Stroke Out”

Pre-eclampsia is a nasty disease – I’m sorry you had to deal with it and now the future health implications as well.

However, I do want to note two things I think are missing from this post:-

1) You mention relative risk but not absolute risk – it’s always a good idea to include both when writing about health issues. Of course an increase in risk is probably never a good thing but an increased small risk is still a small risk.

2) Could you also cite your sources? whether as a link or academic-style at the end of the post, it would help readers to find out more too.

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