Stroke Prevention, Diet & Awareness

In light of the sudden death of Actor Luke Perry, stroke prevention awareness is pouring into mainstream media and health and wellness channels alike.  Here’s what you need to know and share! 

A stroke can happen at any age, often without previous warning and to healthy people.  It is most important to notice the signs of a stroke and seek medical attention immediately, do not wait out symptoms, as time is of the utmost importance when a stroke is occurring, time is usually the difference between surviving a stroke or not. 

The attached handout from the American Heart Association provides information that you can share, including what a stroke is and how to recognize one F.A.S.T. (Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 911). Here are 7 additional and often overlooked signs of a stroke.  Seek medical attention right away if you observe these symptoms in yourself or a loved one and are concerned they could be signs of a stroke.

 Confusion or difficulty understanding – a puzzled look, hard time focusing, trouble making decisions or understanding information.

Dizziness or loss of balance – unsteady movements or staggering, holding on to stationary objects to keep balance.

Numbness or tingling – usually in the face or body, constant touching, massaging, or shaking of the numb areas.

Trouble speaking – missed words, words that cannot be understood or sentences that do not make sense.

Severe headaches – headaches without known cause or discomfort in the head, scalp or neck.  Sometimes leading to vomiting.

Trouble walking or weakness – trouble with ordinary tasks, wanting to sit or laydown often, trouble walking.

Changes in vision – blurred vision or trouble with one or both eyes or unable to read.  Sometimes wanting to squint or rub eyes.

Aside from awareness, managing your diet, exercise, and stress levels are most important.  Traditional guidelines will have you believe that a saturated fat and dietary cholesterol are to blame when more recent research shows that high carbohydrates, refined sugars, and processed foods are and have been the real culprit.  To read more, check out this is a great post outlining the research from one of my wellness colleagues and mentors, Functional Medicine Practitioner Chris Kresser.

The basics are that a low-carb diet proves time and time again to be the healthiest diet across multiple health concerns and wellness/lifestyle goals.  Low carbohydrate diets are considered to be when 10- 15 % of your daily calorie intake comes from carbs, not including veggies.   

SPOILER ALERT: Here’s the math, a look behind the “nutritionist” curtain.

1500 calorie diet – 150 calories form carbs per day, 37.5 grams of carbs per day

2000 calorie diet – 200 calories from carbs per day 50 grams of carbs per day

(carbs have 4 calories per gram, to give you a reference 1 cup of cubed & cooked sweet potatoes is 28 grams.  These numbers do not count green veggies, eat them freely for a total carb intake of under 100g per day). 

This story is personal to me as someone very important to me (who happens to be in impeccable health) suffered a stroke at the young age of 50.  His story is not uncommon and had nothing to do with lifestyle, but a little hold in his heart that did not close after birth and went unnoticed until his stroke.  (for more on that condition look up Patent Foramen Ovale or PFO).  Because of his healthy lifestyle and awareness of his own body and these out of the ordinary symptoms, he went immediately to the ER and recovered with no damage to his brain and the rest of his life to live.