What Black Women Should Know About Strokes

Life & Love | Gerren Keith Gaynor | 12/03/2014 | 09:00 AM EST

The shocking death of Todd Tucker's mother, Miss Sharon, awakens reality for women of color and their health

The death of Miss Sharon, the mother and mother-in-law of “Real Housewives of Atlanta” stars Todd Tucker and Kandi Burruss came as a shock to all, but the tragedy also provokes a very serious discussion about women of color their health.


Sharon, who died of a stroke, represents the thousands of women who die of a stroke every year. In the United States alone, about 800,000 people have a stroke each year, and on average one person dies of a stroke every four minutes.


MORE PROTEIN IN DIET COULD LOWER STROKE RISK


Not to mention, African-American women are disproportionately affected, as they are twice as more likely than white women to have a stroke and have a higher risk of dying.


With such sobering statistics, it would be in every person’s interest, particular Black women, to fully educate themselves on the symptoms of a stroke, its causes and how one can prevent its occurrence through proper health precautions.


We here are Centric want to ensure that ladies are taking care of their bodies, and passing on some of that knowledge to others. Here’s what you need to know to not become another Black woman statistic.


What is a stroke and what are the symptoms?


Stroke is a major cause of death and disability. A stroke occurs when part of your brain doesn't get the blood that it needs. Depending on the parts of the brain damaged by a stroke, people who survive a stroke can have problems with movement, sensations, language, thinking/memory and emotions. Strokes happen fast, so there is often very little window of space to catch it before it occurs. The most common symptoms are numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg; trouble seeing, trouble walking or dizziness; confusion or trouble speaking or understanding speech; or very bad heartache. Women may also have other sudden symptoms, such as feeling sick to your stomach, face and arm or leg pain, hiccups, feeling very tired, chest pain, shortness of breath, or a racing heartbeat.


Why African-American women are more at risk


But for women of color, other preexisting health conditions or diseases puts them at greater risk of stroke, including high blood pressure, diabetes, sickle cell anemia, obesity, lack of physical activity and family history of stroke.


What can be done to lower your risk of stroke?


Even with other health complications, you can still be cautious in an effort to avoid having a stroke. The following are your best chances at living a healthy, stroke-free life: Don't smoke, keep a healthy weight, and maintain physical activity.


As for your dieting, what you eat can also play a major role in stroke prevention. Health officials encourage you to eat heart-healthy foods such as whole-grain, vegetables, and fruit. Additionally, choose lean meats and low-fat cheese and dairy products. Limit foods that have lots of saturated fat, like butter, whole milk, baked goods, ice cream, fatty meats, and cheese.


The main thing you want to do is adopt a lifestyle of health consciousness and regularly visit your doctor to stay on top of your health and numbers.


For more information of stroke facts, visit cdc.gov/stroke/facts.

(Photo: Getty Images/Blend Images)

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