By Allan Bucka Jones
Pride Health Columnist
Women today are living longer, but they still face major health challenges, including the risk of a stroke. Black women have an increased risk of stroke, and are more impacted by a stroke.
A stroke happens when there is an obstruction of blood flow to the brain. Certain risk factors for stroke, such as genetics and family history, cannot be controlled, but others such as high blood pressure and diabetes can be controlled, but is often ignored. Knowing your risk factors for stroke and controlling them is the first step to preventing a stroke.
Black women and men who survive a stroke are more likely to become disabled and experience difficulties with daily living and activities. Research suggests that the following risk factors are the major reasons for stroke.
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE is the number one risk factor for stroke. High blood pressure is a silent killer. Many of us walk around without knowing we have elevated blood pressure. Our diet is high in salt and this significantly contributes to our blood pressure being high and may ultimately lead to a stroke.
DIABETES, which is uncontrolled, increases the risk of a stroke occurring. The simple solution for this is to keep your diabetes under control. Take an active role in your diabetes care and report any unusual signs to your family doctor or other member of your diabetes care team.
SICKLE CELL DISEASE is a common genetic disorder amongst people of African heritage. Sickle shaped cells can block a blood vessel to the brain, leading to a stroke. We can decide to have children when we want. This is a freedom we all have, however, a responsible thing to do before deciding to get pregnant, is to find out the sickle cell status of each partner. Once that information is received, you can make an informed decision on whether you want to have the possibility of parenting a child with sickle cell disease. It is a devastating disease and the decision to parent a child with the disease should be taken seriously.
SMOKING doubles your risk for stroke. If you stop smoking today, your risk for stroke will immediately begin to decrease.
OBESITY is a significant contributor to stroke. Too many of us are going around with extra fat on our body, increasing our risk for a stroke and death. Lose the extra fat by engaging in physical activity for 30 minutes, each day for five days each week. You do not have to go to an expensive gym, just get off the bus two stops early and briskly walk the rest of the way. Park your car at the far end of the mall. Get involved with groups that walk inside malls every morning. Large waist size has been linked to stroke and heart disease, so it is very important that you watch your waist size. Research has shown that women should aim for a waist size, measured at the belly button, of 35 inches (89 cm) or less, and men 40 inches (102 cm) or less.
There is a great tendency in our community to resist taking high blood pressure medications, saying you will have to take it for life. So what? If the medication is reducing your blood pressure, it is reducing the possibility of a stroke, heart attack or even death. A stroke is a serious event.
A stroke can happen suddenly with no warning. Call 9-1-1 immediately if you notice any of the following; Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body; Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding; Sudden trouble seeing or blurred vision in one or both eyes; Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; Sudden severe headache with no known cause. You should never wait more than five minutes to dial 9-1-1 if you experience even one of the signs above. Remember, you could be having a stroke even if you’re not experiencing all of the symptoms.
A woman can adjust her lifestyle to minimize her risk for a stroke. The adjustment includes a reduction or elimination of stress. Numerous studies have shown that there are a variety of stressors that impact on Black women. Find time to relax, make it a part of your daily routine, allocate at least an hour each day to pamper yourself, just sit or lie in a quiet environment and make it your time. Listen to soothing music…read a holy book.
Information from Statistics Canada states that every seven minutes in Canada, someone dies from stroke or heart disease….This is a real problem with women and men…Let us take steps to minimize the danger…Your health is in your hands.
Allan Bucka Jones is a Health Promoter and Broadcaster. He can be heard on “Allan Bucka Jones LIVE”, Sundays from 3 to 5pm on CHRY 105.5 FM, CHRY RADIO App, www.chry.fm option RDO.to, Rogers Digital Cable 945, Bell Fibe 973 or mobile app TuneIn Radio. You can contact Allan Bucka Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.