If you're about to have a stroke, your body has probably been warning you for a while. The problem is that these symptoms are often hard to detect.
So what if something inside your body could give those silent signs a louder voice?
Abbott's medical technology can empower physicians by providing them tools to monitor and treat conditions that contribute to stroke.
Stroke prevention starts in the heart
In 1990, 2.8 million Indians had a stroke. By 2016, that number increased to 6.5 million, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research. Most people think of strokes as a problem in the brain. But while most strokes happen because of a blood clot in the brain, that doesn't really get to the heart of the problem. Clots usually start somewhere outside of the brain — often in the heart. That's what happens to people who have atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat that causes blood to gather and clot in the heart before traveling to the brain.
In India, rheumatic valvular heart disease is the main cause of atrial fibrillation. The prevalence of atrial fibrillation is higher in elderly people, and the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Qualities and Outcomes notes that diagnosing atrial fibrillation is difficult. A study published in the Austin Journal of Cardiovascular Disease and Atherosclerosis found that people with atrial fibrillation are five times more likely to have a stroke. Each time their heart pumps irregularly, it's a warning sign. But try as we might, humans can't hear it. Not without help.
Remote cardiac monitoring tools can track the heart's function from afar and can interpret those subtle signs, setting off an alarm that doctors and patients can hear when something goes awry.
Heart devices to the rescue
Take Abbott's Insertable Cardiac Monitor ( ICM), a tiny device that monitors the heart's activity, syncs up with a smartphone and tracks variations in heart rhythm around the clock.
At about the size of a large paper clip, it transmits data wirelessly, which means your doctor will know if something's wrong shortly after it happens. By diagnosing conditions like atrial fibrillation sooner, doctors can put patients on a path to treatment to help them avoid complications, such as clotting, that could increase the risk of stroke.
Of course, other types of heart devices can help reduce stroke risk along with cardiac monitoring, too.
Better heart health, lower stroke risk
Heart health plays a key role in stroke prevention, so one of the best ways to take care of your brain is to take care of your heart.
Follow these tips to take control of your stroke risk factors. If they sound familiar, they should: They're great ways to protect against heart disease, too.
- Tackle high blood pressure with on time medications and eating lots of vegetables, whole grains and fish. Watch your salt intake, too, and cut back on foods high in cholesterol.
- Manage your weight by watching your calorie intake and exercising at least 30 minutes a day five times a week.
- Notify your doctor of any symptoms of atrial fibrillation, which can include trouble breathing or heart palpitations. Atrial fibrillation can increase your risk of stroke.
- If you have diabetes, manage it with blood sugar monitoring, physical activity, medications and nutrition.
- Stop smoking, and avoid tobacco smoke when possible. Even second-hand smoke can raise your stroke risk.
Stroke may be a silent killer but that doesn't mean you can't keep the risk at bay. Ask your doctor about your options, especially if you have atrial fibrillation.
Innovative medical technology can help with the diagnosis and prevention of stroke. Take control of your risk — and know that, usually, it starts with the heart.
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