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Controlling Your Stroke Risk 

When you think of celebrities like Randy Travis, Dick Clark, Sharon Stone or Rick James, you probably think of their many talents. What you might not realize is that they all at one time suffered a stroke.  

Strokes – or brain attacks – can happen to anyone at any time. Strokes are the leading cause of adult disability in the United States, and the fifth leading cause of death.  

Strokes occur when blood flow and oxygen is cut off to an area of the brain. This causes brain cells to die, which, in turn, affects the abilities controlled by that part of the brain. 

According to the National Stroke Association, about 800,000 people suffer from strokes every year. What’s notable, however, is that nearly 80 percent of strokes can be avoided. 

Certain traits, conditions and habits can raise an individual’s risk of having a stroke. Some of these factors can’t be controlled – like age, family history, gender and race. But many lifestyle risk factors can be controlled and can actually help prevent a stroke from occurring.  

Some of the major risk factors associated with stroke that can be controlled include: 

  • High blood pressure 
  • Smoking 
  • Diabetes 
  • Poor diet 
  • High blood cholesterol 
  • Physical inactivity 
  • Obesity 
  • Heart diseases 
  • Alcohol consumption 

If you’re aware of what lifestyle risk factors you have, you can control, treat and improve them to lessen your chances of having a stroke. I recommend getting regular checkups and following physician recommendations to treat any risk factors. A healthy diet and regular exercise also can go a long way in preventing a stroke, along with minimizing alcohol consumption and eliminating smoking.   

However, changing behaviors or habits is not always easy – especially when there haven’t been any negative consequences yet. 

Changing your diet or activity level is a long-term commitment that requires a lifestyle change, so it can be somewhat difficult. But if you have any stroke risk factors, the time to change is now, before something negative happens. Remember, the changes you make now can affect what happens – or doesn’t happen – later. FBN 



By Dr. Richard Holt


Dr. Richard Holt is the Medical Director of Rehabilitation Hospital of Northern Arizona. 

Rehabilitation Hospital of Northern Arizona is a 40-bed, free-standing rehabilitation hospital that provides specialized physical rehabilitation services to patients recovering from strokes, brain and spinal cord injuries, orthopedic injuries, and other disabilities caused by injuries, illnesses, or chronic medical conditions. The hospital has recently opened its doors to serve patients from Flagstaff and Northern Arizona 


For more information, visit rhna.ernesthealth.com. 


1851 North Gemini Drive • Flagstaff, AZ  86001 • 928-774-7070 • www.rhna.ernesthealth.com 


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