Time is brain

    This article can be reproduced as is

    OTTAWA, Oct. 4 /CNW Telbec/ - We protect our eyes with sunglasses, our
teeth with fluoride toothpaste and our skin with sunscreen. But is it possible
to protect our brain? It is estimated that up to 80% of strokes may be
preventable. Take the time now to save your brain - one step at a time.

    1. Keep it on low

    High blood pressure can speed up the plaque buildup on the inside of
    arteries (atherosclerosis), and cause thin, fragile balloon-like bulges,
    called aneurysms, to develop in blood vessels. Check your blood pressure
    regularly and if elevated make sure you bring it to normal through
    lifestyle changes and medication.

    2. Don't let it build up

    When your bad blood cholesterol levels go up, so do your chances of
    developing narrowed arteries (atherosclerosis). If the wall of the artery
    gets damaged, a blood clot can form, blocking the blood flow to the
    brain, or the clot could break off and travel to the brain. The result,
    in either case, could be a stroke.

    3. End couch potato days

    Physical activity is proven to lower blood pressure for hours, even after
    just one session. It also increases the levels of HDL (good) cholesterol
    in your body that helps to flush out the bad cholesterol. A good, brisk
    walk can also reduce your stress and improve your mood.

    4. Drink responsibly

    More than two drinks per day results in a 1.5-2 fold increase in
    hypertension compared to non-drinkers. Limit yourself to one or two
    drinks a day, to a weekly maximum of nine for women and 14 for men.

    5. Cut the fat and salt

    Saturated and trans fats increase your blood cholesterol levels so choose
    products that are low in these fats. Also, choose food with lower sodium
    levels. Make heart-healthy shopping easy by checking for the Heart&Stroke
    Health Check(TM) symbol on packaged foods.

    6. Shape up

    Excess weight and extra body fat around the middle - an apple shape - can
    cause high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and type 2 diabetes.
    These conditions are all linked to an increased risk of stroke and heart

    7. Butt out

    Smoking contributes to the build-up of plaque in your arteries, increases
    the risk of blood clots, reduces the oxygen in your blood, raises your
    blood pressure and makes your heart work harder. It also nearly doubles
    the risk of ischemic stroke, so take action and quit now.

    8. Bust your stress

    Long-term stress can contribute to high blood pressure levels,
    potentially increasing your risk of heart disease or stroke.

    9. Talk to your family

    The best protection from a stroke is knowledge. Get informed on your
    family history of stroke or heart attack. Having close relatives with
    this history puts you at higher risk and makes it even more important
    that you protect yourself from modifiable risk factors.

    10. Learn the five warning signs of stroke:

    Weakness - Sudden loss of strength or sudden numbness in the face, arm or
    leg, even if temporary.
    Trouble speaking - Sudden difficulty speaking or understanding or sudden
    confusion, even if temporary.
    Vision problems - Sudden trouble with vision, even if temporary.
    Headache - Sudden severe and unusual headache.
    Dizziness - Sudden loss of balance, especially with any of the above

    Call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number immediately. If stroke-like
    symptoms occur and disappear after a few minutes, don't ignore them. This
    can be a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA), also known as a mini-stroke. It
    must be treated to avoid a bigger stroke.

    Visit www.heartandstroke.ca for more tips on managing your risks and
information on stroke.

    World Stroke Day is October 9, 2007. The Heart and Stroke Foundation, the
Canadian Stroke Network and the Canadian Stroke Consortium remind you that
stroke is a medical emergency. Responding immediately can significantly
improve survival and recovery.

For further information:

For further information: (not for publication): Heather Rourke, Heart
and Stroke Foundation of Canada, (613) 569-4361 ext 318, hrourke@hsf.ca

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