Stroke Prevention by Karen Salkin

A drawing of a black stick figure holding onto a red heart with the blue ClearClub logo in the bottom right corner

We at ClearClub always have your best health in mind. To that end, our night guards help with all your stress that can cause gum problems, headaches, and other issues.

And since we care about your overall health, I occasionally want to make you aware of ways you can safeguard one area or another. So right now, I'm here to share my knowledge on the prevention of strokes - being aware of this could literally save someone’s life.

Before I give you the guidelines I’ve learned on the subject, I have to confide in you that I suffered my own TIA a few years ago, which is a mini-stroke. And my lack of knowledge on the subject almost killed me! The short version is that I ignored my symptoms because they were brief. That was very stupid of me!!! If anything of what I'm about to describe ever happens to you, please don’t be as negligent as I was!

The most important thing that I’ve learned since then is that strokes are, for the most part, preventable - so here are some tips for everyone:

– If you experience any real numbness, (not just a tingling, like your foot went to sleep) or a drooping face, no matter how slight, you absolutely have to call 911! There is no embarrassment if it turns-out that you’re really okay. Better that than not going to get it checked out right away, and being correct about having a stroke!

A person balancing on a rock backlit by the setting sun

– Definitely do not drive yourself, and don’t even have a pal drive you. Here’s why you need to call 911, and have an ambulance take you: They make sure to get you to the nearest stroke hospital, which not all of them are. You need a specific stroke team. The ambulance personnel will alert the emergency room, and you’ll be taken right in, which is very important.

– I’ve heard different timelines for this, but basically, once they do tests to establish if you are indeed, stroking, they then do a blood test to determine which kind. It it’s the “right” one, (I hate using that word for something so wrong) there’s a medication they can administer to save your life. But it’s effective for only a few hours. That’s why time (and an ambulance) are of the essence.

– But try not to let it get that far. Have annual blood tests to determine your stroke factors to begin with. If you have high cholesterol or diabetes, you’re at risk. So, right away, change your diet, (and perhaps your supplements, too) and—as much as I hate to say this one, but I must—take your doctor’s advice on meds. I’m not a medication person, so, for awhile, I hated having to take them, especially because of the small side effects, but they are saving my life. Literally. Of course, as I advised you in a recent blog, get second opinions, but don’t fight the meds for shallow reasons, (as I did,) because they're usually life-savers.

– I’ve also learned that exercise can greatly lessen your risk factors for strokes. So, get off that couch!  Now!

– And most of all, if you’re more than a tad chubby, as I was, do yourself a major favor and lose some weight.  Perhaps begin by eliminating the bad-for-you items. If I, the queen of junk food, can do it, (which I did,) anyone can. [Note: My “stroke team” told me to cut out red meat, white flour, butter, sugar, and salt, and I took it to heart. And they said to eat fish and nuts; I'm not a fish person, but when I learned that walnuts help lower cholesterol, I've been a major nut person since then; in addition to being a nutty one, of course.]

Muticolored heart made of chalk

– I never drank alcohol to begin with, but once diagnosed with a stroke, you’ll have to stop.  Or at least wind it down. So, if you’re an imbiber, why not do yourself a favor, and just curtail your drinking now, so you’ll have a better shot at overall good health to begin with?!

– If your doc sends you for an MRI to diagnose your condition, insist on also having an MRA. Without it, they would have told me I’m fine, and I may not be here now to be writing this! You have the tests at the same time, in the same machine. I didn’t even know I was having the second one! Thank goodness I had smart doctors to begin with.

-- Please do not ignore symptoms. It’s rarely nothing, as we all like to think our symptoms are.

Of course, worrying about your health is stressful. So please make sure to always wear your ClearClub night guards to mitigate that stress by absorbing it when you inevitably grind and clench your teeth at night.  We all need to take care of our overall health, and our guards are the easiest place to start.

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