A stroke could change your life—or end it—in an instant. But the damage that leads to a brain attack is often years in the making.
That’s why David Liebeskind, M.D., a professor of neurology at UCLA, is using MRIs and CT scans to detect narrowed arteries and other early warning signs. Even dental x-rays, which show arteries to the brain, can hold clues.
“Imaging shows changes over time,” he says. His Rx: Ask your dentist and doctor for copies of every imaging study you’ve ever had and stash them on a HIPAA-compliant site, like MyVault. That way your doc can compare your past results to now.
But the power to stop a stroke is largely in your hands. Here are four suggestions from Dr. Liebeskind on how you can make a big difference with small chages in your behavior.
1. Make Joe Your Bodyguard
“The antioxidants found in coffee have multiple health benefits, and research suggests that drinking three to four cups a day may lower your stroke risk. I make a cup of Nescafe instant every morning. Then I drink two large cups of regular during the day.”
2. Strategize to Travel Light
“Business trips are extremely mentally taxing. I always pick up a bottle of water to stay hydrated and usually grab a snack like peanuts or cashews at the airport. The H2O, along with the essential fatty acids in the nuts, helps my brain stay energized. Nuts are rich in nutrients that aid bloodflow.”
3. Carve for Your Cardio Health
“I have a Skier’s Edge machine that I use for 30 minutes a day. Aside from making me a stronger skier, it provides an intense yet low-impact form of exercise. People who do cardio regularly have higher levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a chemical that plays a big role in your cognitive function.”
4. Change Your Scenery
“When I’m stressed, I think, ‘What can I control, and what is out of my control?’ One way to gain perspective is to just change your environment: Take a walk outside. If I have to work during my free time, I do it quickly and then jump back to leisure. That way I don’t worry about unfinished business.”
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