When you have a family history of stroke, you can feel helpless. Fortunately, even a strong family history does not mean you are destined to have a stroke. There are ways you can minimize your risk and take preventative action, such as:
Find Your Healthy Diet
One of the major points of contention when reducing your risk of vascular disease is what diet is appropriate. There are several schools of thought, such as low-carbohydrate and low-fat, with neither school being completely right. You can easily find examples of people who have adopted different dietary changes and have lost significant amounts of weight, reversed chronic diseases, and have excellent blood work. The best place to start is to evaluate the people in your family who had a stroke and think about lifestyle choices they made that might be harmful, and determine if you are making the same mistakes. For example, if you generally gravitate to starchy or sweet foods, but not fatty foods, and still have hypertension or see your blood sugar creeping up, maybe a low-carbohydrate lifestyle might be a better option.
Ask Your Doctor About Testing
It is difficult to determine your risk factors and whether a particular dietary change is harmful or hurtful if your doctor is not performing the right tests. For example, people who adopt a higher fat, lower carbohydrate lifestyle will often see their cholesterol go up. This may cause your doctor to lecture you about the importance of reducing or eliminating certain foods from your diet, such as whole eggs or dark meat poultry. With standard cholesterol testing, you can see the rise and fall of good and bad cholesterol, but it does not reveal the entire picture. Specific tests designed to analyze bad cholesterol are important. The low-density lipoproteins (LDL) are considered the "bad" form of cholesterol. But LDL can be further subdivided into larger, fluffy particles or smaller, dense particles. It is the smaller, dense LDL particles associated with artery-clogging fat. A normal or low LDL is not necessarily good if the predominant type of LDL is small and dense.
Request Regular Screenings
Screenings associated with your personal risk of having a stroke are often underutilized. In many cases, these screenings are not requested by your doctor and may not be covered by insurance. Screenings usually involve an ultrasound to check your carotid artery to determine if there is evidence of narrowing. If you have a family history of stroke, try to save up the money to have the test. Fortunately, there are various settings where you can schedule the test without the need for a referral. Other types of screening you should consider are ones to check the blood vessels in your legs. Although blood clots that form in the legs affect the heart and lungs if they break off, which can be life-threatening, knowing you are developing blood clots can help doctors take preventative action and reduce your risk of stroke and other blood vessel diseases.
A combination of lifestyle changes and knowing the appropriate tests to monitor your risks will give you the best chance at possibly avoiding a stroke. Contact a doctor like Mohsen M. Hamza, M.D. for more information and assistance.