A stroke occurs when there is an inadequate flow of blood to the brain, causing destruction of the brain cells. When there is an interruption of blood flow to the brain, less oxygen and nutrients are delivered, causing some tissue to die and other tissue to be 'at risk' for death. However, with immediate medical attention, the risk of further harm and brain cell damage may be reduced.
Strokes generally happen quite suddenly, with symptoms being:
- Paralysis of the body and/or face (often occurring on just one side)
- Mental confusion, difficulty speaking or understanding what people are saying
- Eye problems such as blurry or double vision, in one or both eyes
- Excruciating headache (may occur with vomiting, dizziness or altered consciousness)
- Problems walking due to loss of balance
These are signs to particularly look out for if you are overweight or obese, male, over the age of 55, are of African-American descent, have a family history of stroke or are a female who uses birth control pills and estrogen hormone therapies.
But contributors to stroke are even more wide-ranging. Some diseases, medical conditions and lifestyle choices may also put someone at greater risk of stroke, including:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Sleep apnea
- Physical inactivity
- Cigarette smoking
- Drug use
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Transient ischemic attack (TIA)
While all of the above risk factors are of importance, a TIA, also known as a 'mini-stroke,' should never be ignored. Though symptoms may start strong but then stop in a short period of time without causing any obvious or lingering symptoms, physicians consider this a major warning sign that increases a person's chances of having a more severe stroke.
If you feel concerned because your pre-existing medical condition or lifestyle indicates a higher possibility of stroke, or if you have already experienced one, then this would be a good time to schedule an appointment with your acupuncture and Oriental medicine practitioner. Together, you can discover what life changes you might need to make to improve your health and reduce your risk.
For example, if you suffer from high blood pressure, your acupuncture and Oriental medicine practitioner may suggest foods that can assist in lowering blood pressure. Garlic, green tea and fish high in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, trout and tuna, all perform this function. Green tea has the added benefit of lowering low-density-lipids (LDL). Garlic and all the fish listed, on the other hand, can help stop blood clots from forming and reaching the brain, where they can cause a stroke to ensue.
If addiction is an issue, for instance, there are ear acupuncture protocols specifically designed to reduce cravings and thus motivate the individual to kick a habit. Your acupuncture and Oriental medicine practitioner may opt for another protocol that is performed on other parts of the body with acupuncture needles. A mild exercise regime may prove helpful whether weight is an issue or not. Movement helps circulation, so simple exercises like walking backwards or swinging your arms while walking may help invigorate the mind and body.
Find an Acupuncturist near you to learn how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help ease your symptoms!
About the Author: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM, studied at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and practiced acupuncture and Oriental medicine in New York for several years. Vanessa enjoys traveling the world, and has published articles on acupuncture and Oriental medicine and related health topics for websites and publications in both the U.S. and abroad.