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Preventing a Stroke

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

Anthony W. Bosarge, d.p.t.

This old saying is very true. Given the functional limitations and disabilities that result from a stroke, education and prevention are necessary. The incidence of stroke is 114 per 10,000 persons, or 750,000 strokes in the United States every year. According to the American Stroke Association, stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States and the number one cause of disability. Don't let yourself be one of these statistics: carefully monitor and control your risk factors.

Risk Factors You Can Control

High Blood Pressure

Blood pressure greater than 160/90 mm/HG is a risk factor, but it is the most modifiable risk factor for stroke. Reducing systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) by 5 to 6mm decreases the risk for stroke by 36 percent. Decreasing the diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) by the same amount can decrease the risk by 42 percent (Goodman, Fuller, Boissonnault 2003). Keep your blood pressure controlled, and faithfully take any blood pressure medication prescribed by your physician.


High serum blood glucose level has been associated with increased risk for stroke. Diabetes Mellitus is known to cause atherosclerosis,increased cholesterol levels, and plaque formation within the arteries, which inevitably leads to stroke. Controlling blood serum glucose with diet, exercise, and medication can greatly reduce the risk for stroke.

Smoking and Tobacco Use

According to Goodman et al 2003, smoking increases the risk for stroke by 50 percent. Although we all know how addicting nicotine is and how difficult it is to quit smoking, there are many new medications available that are designed to decrease the craving for nicotine. Talk to your physician for help with smoking cessation, start a new healthier life, and decrease your risk for stroke.

Anthony W. Bosarge, d.p.t., is a physical therapist in our Mississippi office.