A Second Opinion: Watch your blood pressure!

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“Have a heart, and take care, everyone!”

by Mary Foran



With all the political hub-bub that we all face nowadays, it is time to step back and meditate a bit upon our own stamina and physical and mental well-being.

First of all, think peaceful thoughts, and listen to your favorite music, exercise gently and RELAX!

In a very interesting pamphlet from the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association, we are warned about the risk factors for that maimer and killer, the STROKE.

By focusing on the factors that lead to a stroke, you can change your behaviors, and often prevent the worst of this kind of deadly clot-based ataque.


Risk factors include:

High Blood Pressure, the single most important risk factor for stroke. You should know your latest blood pressure reading, and have it checked at least once every two years. It is considered HIGH if it is 140/90 or above. There are medications that can control High Blood Pressure, so talk with your doctor about it.

Tobacco use increases the likelihood of a stroke, so put down that nasty habit.

Diabetes Mellitus is a big factor for stroke, so manage it well under the guidance and treatment by your doctor.

Carotid or other arterial disease: the carotid arteries in your neck supply blood to your brain. A carotid artery damaged by fatty buildup of plaque inside the artery wall may become blocked by a blood clot, causing a stroke.

TIAs: Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIAs) are “mini-strokes” that produce stroke-like symptoms without lasting effects. Recognizing and treating TIAs can reduce the risk of a major stroke. You should know the warning signs of a TIA and seek emergency medical treatment immediately.

Atrial fibrillation or other heart disease: In Atrial fibrillation the heart’s upper chambers “quiver” rather than beating effectively. This causes the blood to pool and clot, increasing the risk of stroke. All heart diseases increase the risk of stroke.

Certain blood disorders:  A high red blood cell count makes clots more likely, raising the risk for stroke. Those who have Sickle Cell Anemia are more at risk because the “sickled” cells stick to blood vessel walls and may block arteries.

High Blood Cholesterol: This increases the risk of clogged arteries. If an artery leading to the brain becomes blocked, the result is a stroke.

Physical inactivity and obesity: Not moving an inch from your television set or stuffing yourself on tapas can lead to cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Excessive alcohol intake: Women who drink more than one drink per day, or men who drink more than two drinks a day can find that it leads to high blood pressure. Binge drinking can lead to stroke.

Sniffing cocaine

Illegal drug use: Intravenous drug abuse carries with it a high risk for stroke, especially cocaine use.


All these factors can be treated and behaviorally changed. The following factors cannot:

Increasing age. The older you get to be, the greater the risk of stroke.

Gender. Generally speaking, more men have strokes, but more women die of strokes.

Heredity and Race. If you have had a stroke in the family, you are at a higher risk for a stroke yourself. Because of a greater incidence of high blood pressure among African-Americans, they have a higher rate of disability and death from strokes, compared to Blancos. Hispanic-Americans are also at a higher risk from stroke.

Prior Stroke. If you’ve had a stroke, watch out. You’re at a higher risk of having another one!

You can visit the American Stroke Association online StrokeAssociation.org. for pamphlets or more information.


1. Sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.

2. Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.

3. Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.

4. Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.

5. Sudden, severe headaches with no known cause.

As the doctors say: “Time Lost is Brain Loss”. Get medical help within 3 hours of your first symptoms!

Spanish tennis champion Rafa Nadal at the Indian Wells Masters, 2016

Now then, those who are in HIGH PRESSURE jobs or are engaged in strenuous activities such as Soccer or Basketball or Tennis Championships, should be aware of these symptoms of stroke and communicate their condition to others immediately.

“The life you save may be your own…”

(Updated statistics can be found at americanheart.org/statistics.)

Have a heart, and take care, everyone!


Featured image/Sammy Jay Jay (homeremedieslog.com), cc by2.0
Butterfly/Jeannie Debs via Flickr cc by2.0
Electroheart/JakobT_98, cc by-sa2.0
Cocaine/Victor via Flickr, cc by2.0 cropped
Nadal/Mikelokok via Wikimedia. cc by4.0


About Mary
Born in Seattle, WA, U.S.A., and a graduate of the University of Oregon in Spanish and General Literature, Mary lived in Madrid, Spain during the 80s, a period in Spanish history which became known as “The Transition”. She taught English as a Foreign Language, and worked as Managing Editor of the Guidepost when it was still a weekly print publication. She did a stint on Spanish Foreign Radio and Radio Cadena, and corresponded for a Financial Times of London newsletter. She still has ties to Spain, loves the people and the country, and has great hopes for the future!