One of the scariest things that could ever happen to us or someone we love, is a stroke. Like a lightning bolt striking in the middle of a storm, devastation can take place quickly. However, strokes are more forgiving than lightning bolts because stroke damage may be reduced by following the FAST protocol. This was developed by the National Stroke Association to help people identify stroke symptoms. Call me to learn the best ways of reducing your stroke risk and the best alternative therapies for post-stroke care, but call 9-1-1 when stroke is suspected.
The FAST acronym translates to: F = FACE (Ask the person to smile to see if one side of the face droops.) A = ARMS (Ask the person to raise both arms to see if one arm drifts downward.) S = SPEECH (Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase to see if their speech is slurred.) T = TIME (Call 9-1-1 immediately if any of these signs are observed.) Treatment within one hour of the warning signs dramatically improves stroke prognosis, often preventing or reversing neurological damage.
Taking shelter in a storm before the lightning strikes could save your life. You can see why prevention is your best defense when you apply this concept to strokes. Compare inflammation brewing within the body to a severe storm threatening to do damage. Would you just sit and watch the storm, or take cover? Reducing inflammation in the body is one of the most important things that can be done to reduce stroke risk.
It’s estimated that 80% of strokes are preventable by changing lifestyle factors. Reducing consumption of the sugars that cause inflammation is a great place to start. Identified risk factors for stroke include elevated blood lipids stemming from dietary trans-fats, sugars, grains, a sedentary lifestyle without proper exercise, obesity, diabetes, elevated blood pressure, excessive alcohol intake, and smoking.
A high homocysteine level is also an indicator of an upcoming stroke or heart attack because of homocysteine’s damaging effects to the heart and blood vessels. If you have elevated homocysteine levels, it’s likely that you’re deficient in nutrients, especially B vitamins. Many of my patients have successfully lowered homocysteine levels using nutritional protocols which included B-complex vitamins, along with other supportive nutrients specifically dosed. An extremely common deficiency is B-12. If you read my previous articles on digestion, energy, and B-12, then you know why B-12 is so important!
Anti-oxidants are some of the most important nutrients that help decrease stroke risk by reducing inflammation. The brain consumes the greatest amount of energy compared to other organs in the body and has one of the highest concentrations of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Unfortunately, these fatty acids are easily oxidized by free radicals, so the body must be supplied with the proper nutrition to help prevent free radical damage. This nutrition should include whole food sources of vitamins C, D3, E, magnesium, zinc, selenium, and B-complex along with supportive enzymes, other specific molecules, and flavonoids. Essential fatty acids are also necessary for brain health. DHA is obtained by eating fatty ocean fish or consuming high quality omega-3 fish oils.
According to neurosurgeon Dr. Russell Blaylock, inflammation in the brain affects neurons, glial cells, the blood brain barrier, and blood vessels that supply nutrients and oxygen. Inflammation-generated free radicals and lipid peroxidation (the oxidative degradation of fats generated by the free radical chain reaction) cause atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries) that leads to stroke or vascular dementia.
Stroke refers to specific damage to the brain. There are two major forms: ischemic and hemorrhagic. Approximately 75% of strokes are ischemic which are frequently due to spikes in blood pressure as the result of blockages in small blood vessels with globs of fat or plaque. (The body knows it’s safer to spike BP and blow the obstruction through rather than lose blood flow to an area and have the area die of ischemia – lack of blood flow.) An ischemic stroke may also be called a brain attack, because it’s similar to a heart attack in which blood vessels to the heart muscle become blocked.
A “mini-stroke” or TIA (transient ischemic attack) means there’s been a temporary blockage in a blood vessel of the brain. TIA’s should be considered a warning to clean up your diet or expect bigger trouble in the future. This means eliminating all processed foods containing trans-fat oils, grains, sugars, chemicals, and preservatives and replacing them with healthy fats (coconut oil, avocado, butter, raw nuts) and other whole foods.
In a hemorrhagic stroke, arteries in the brain typically rupture due to increased blood pressure or loss of blood vessel integrity. Increased blood pressure can be related to fats or plaque buildup due to poor diet or a malfunctioning digestive system that doesn’t process food correctly.
I encourage everyone to take stroke prevention seriously. As a chiropractor and Certified Wellness Doctor, I’m passionate about helping people improve both their health and their quality of life. Although mainstream health care has started to recognize the value of prevention, many alternative therapies aren’t yet integrated into our culture, although they’ve been used successfully in Europe for years.
These therapies include PEMF (Pulsed Electro Magnetic Frequency) and Cold Laser. PEMF recharges the surface voltage of cells in the body to improve intercellular communication for better maintenance and repair. Cold Laser helps the body repair faster post-stroke, when the body is rewiring its central nervous system. Also reducing pain, Cold Laser helps increase energy in the mitochondria, allowing them to produce more ATP’s. In turn, ATP’s (body fuels) are used to promote healthier cells, which support faster healing and repair.
Preventative practices should be a priority for everyone. If you’re already invested into healthy routines, it will serve you well if something unforeseen should occur, like an accident or stroke. Heaven forbid anything like that will ever happen to you or a family member but as the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.