Simple stroke test could save lives

July 12, 2013 7:49:26 PM PDT
There's a way doctors can help determine if you're at risk for a stroke. Strokes are the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S., but there are things you can do to minimize your risk of stroke -- in fact there are seven.

Now doctors have a new test that helps them figure out which factors can help you lower your stroke risk score.

"Strokes are very common," said UCLA neurologist Dr. Lucas Restrepo. "Every year in this country there are 750,000 people that have a new stroke."

The American Heart Association is offering a "Simple Seven Test" to help people avoiding landing in the emergency room. The higher your score, the lower your risk. It's based on seven criteria: cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, activity level, diet, smoking and your weight.

If you smoke you get 0; 2 points if you don't or if you quit.

"Smoking, even if it's one cigarette, is deleterious for your health," said Restrepo.

Two-hundred and below is ideal for cholesterol, but Dr. Restrepo says pay closer attention to your LDL, or "bad cholesterol" level. Blood sugar should be below 100. And your score worsens with high blood pressure.

While an LDL of 100 and below and a blood-pressure reading of 120 over 80 might be good guidelines, Restrepo says that may not equal a good score for everyone because everybody is different.

"When you have different risk factors, the numbers vary," said Restrepo.

To get two points for diet, eat the "Mediterranean way."

"It consists in eating salads twice per day, eating fruits twice per day, eating nuts," said Restrepo.

Restrepo says it's best to discuss this with your doctor because everyone's health risks vary. The good news is you can raise your score.


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