LET'S TALK! About Your Health

May Topic - Stroke Prevention
Stroke Prevention-May is National Stroke Awareness Month
Let's Talk HeartDid You Know? Stroke does not have to be as common or as feared as in years past. Simple lifestyle changes, basic health care and sometimes medications can help make a stroke preventable. Being aware of early signs and symptoms of stroke can also lead to early treatment / less disability in the event of a stroke.

Stroke is Preventable

Special Feature by Bret A. Witter, MD, FACC FACP

Stroke Awareness MonthA stroke is a common and feared medical problem. Many people are more afraid of stroke than death. Perhaps you know of someone who has recently experienced a stroke. This is a motivating factor for many patients to get educated regarding stroke prevention. Fortunately, many strokes are preventable. Strokes are generally caused by a blocked artery, bleeding in the head or from a blood clot from the neck or heart.

Many simple lifestyle changes can help prevent stroke — especially blocked artery / bleeding related strokes. For example, regular exercise, low sodium / low fat diets, and smoking cessation are very effective.

Blood pressure control is very important. Guidelines suggest blood pressure should be less than 140 / 90 at rest most of the time or even lower (130 / 80) if you have higher risk features including diabetes. Many times, hypertension is unavoidable if you have a strong family history. More commonly, the disease is evident or accelerated by overweight status and high salt intake.

High cholesterol also has an impact on stroke incidence. Again, there is a strong family component for many people. Diet still plays a strong role.

Obesity is epidemic in America. Blood pressure, cholesterol status and being overweight are strongly impacted by diet. Shifting to a diet that is lower in sodium and fat can control these risk factors without medication. For those who still have problems, there are many medications that are effective with minimal side effects.

Atrial fibrillation (irregular heart beats) is associated with stroke. When the heart is beating erratically, blood clots can form and break off / travel to the head. This is especially important to people older than 75 years of age. Risk factors for this include excessive alcohol, caffeine intake and sleep apnea.

Stroke is now treated as an emergency. In an effort to be more responsive and timely many hospitals have established stroke centers so that treatment can be administrated within the first three hours following an event. The symptoms of stroke include weakness or numbness on one side of the body, or a sudden change in speech or comprehension. These symptoms should be treated as an emergency. Call 911 if you or someone you know experience these symptoms.

Stroke does not have to be as common or as feared as in years past. Simple lifestyle changes, basic health care and sometimes medications can help make a stroke preventable. Being aware of early signs and symptoms of stroke can also lead to early treatment / less disability in the event of a stroke.

Get more details and make a difference during National Stroke Awareness Month by visiting: www.stroke.org



This article was written by Bret A. Witter, MD, FACC, FACP. Dr. Witter is board certified in Internal Medicine, Cardiovascular Diseases and Cardiac Echocardiography. In addition to his full-time duties as a cardiologist and partner at Los Alamitos Cardiovascular, Dr. Witter is Assistant Clinical Professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Learn more about Dr. Witter.

Brain Attack: A Stroke Survival Guide

Watch this 30-minute clip of the popular “Brain Attack” show created for network TV by National Stroke Association in partnership with NBC Universal and Al Roker Productions. National Stroke Association is making this 30-minute video available for educational use only and to help promote raising stroke awareness across the country.



Stroke Signs and Symptoms Infographic

Stroke Symptoms Info Graphic

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Let's Talk! Library

In addition to frequently participating as guest lecturers throughout the community, our cardiologists write articles for local and regional print and e-publications as well as for this website. We regulary update the list below with new health-related content, so check back often.


What's the Deal with Sugar and My Heart?/ Dr. Bret Witter/ March 2015

arrow FEATURED! Healthy Resolutions: The KIS(S) IT! Approach/ Dr. Stuart Fischer/ August 2014

Heart Attack / Dr. Robert S. Lee / January 2014

arrow FEATURED! Stroke Prevention / Dr. Bret A. Witter / May 2013

Women and Heart Disease / Dr. Steven T. Forman / February 2013

Caring for a Family Member with Heart Failure / Dr. Bret A. Witter / August 2013

Finding the Fountain of Youth / Dr. Steven T. Forman / September 2012

Exercise and Your Health / Dr. Steven T. Forman / December 2012

Making the Most Out of Your Office Visit / Staff / March 2012