What is a Stroke/Brain Attack? - National Stroke Association


What is a Stroke/Brain Attack? - National Stroke Association


According to the NHLBI, active people tend to have lower cholesterol levels. Regular

exercise also seems to slow down or stop the clogging of blood vessels by fatty plaque

deposits. Doctors may recommend a program of regular exercise to lower cholesterol.

Aerobic exercise is best for lowering cholesterol because it strengthens the heart and

lungs by maintaining an accelerated heart rate for an extended period of time. Walking,

swimming and cycling are examples of aerobic exercise. For best results, exercise at an

aerobic level at least three times a week for 20 to 30 minutes each time.

Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is a very important controllable stroke risk factor. Some people with AF

will experience heart palpitations — often described as a "pounding," "racing" or

"fluttering" heart beat. In other people, the only symptom of AF may be dizziness,

faintness or light-headedness. Some may experience chest pains ranging from mild discomfort

to severe pain. Others may experience no symptoms at all.

Self-test for irregular pulse

A recent nationwide study showed that 76 percent of the study participants could easily

and quickly screen themselves to determine if they have an irregular pulse, 14 a telltale

sign of AF. In the study, trained instructors taught participants how to find their own

pulse and then identify the difference between a regular heartbeat and an irregular one.

This new, simple self-screening technique can be conducted on anyone to determine an

irregular pulse. To properly self-screen for an irregular pulse, place the first two fingers

of the right hand on the left wrist, then take the pulse to feel for a regular or irregular

heartbeat. A regular heartbeat is characterized by a series of even, continuous beats,

whereas an irregular heartbeat often feels like an extra or missed heartbeat. Keeping

time by tapping the foot, may be helpful.

This self-screening technique must be performed properly in order to obtain correct

results and should not be considered a substitute for consulting with a physician. If you

are having difficulty locating your pulse or performing the screening technique, you

may want to discuss your concerns with a physician.

All adults, especially those over the age of 55, should check their pulse every six

months to determine if it is irregular.

AF, like high blood pressure or high cholesterol, often has no outward symptoms. The

only way to completely confirm its presence is to perform an electrocardiogram (ECG).

During an ECG, sensitive electrodes are placed on the chest. These electrodes pick up

the electrical impulses generated by the body that cause the heart to beat. The

impulses are sent to a T.V. screen or a piece of paper called an ECG strip. By examining

the specific pattern of electrical impulses, a doctor can determine whether a patient has

AF. Doctors may choose to treat this form of heart disease by prescribing medication or

by an electrical shock to the chest to return the beating back to normal.

National Stroke Association’s Complete Guide to Stroke


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