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Stroke and Dehydration: How Are They Linked?

Apr 01, 2024
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Strokes are a leading cause of death and disability in the United States. But in most cases, they’re preventable. How can you prevent a stroke? Drinking plenty of healthy fluids is a good first step. Here’s why.

A stroke occurs when your brain doesn’t get the blood and oxygen it needs to function. Strokes can permanently damage your brain or even kill you. If you do survive a stroke, you may need extensive help rehabilitating your brain and body.

Stroke is the fifth most common cause of death in the United States. It’s also a leading cause of disability. However, up to 80% of strokes are preventable — and one way to help prevent them is to stay hydrated.

At Advanced Medical Care, with offices in Forest Hills, Queens and Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, New York, our team of neurologists diagnoses and treats strokes and the disability they cause. We also can help you prevent future strokes.

For the average adult, drinking eight cups of water or healthy fluids a day should  be sufficient to stay hydrated. Sip throughout the day, starting when you wake up. 

Can healthy hydration help you prevent a stroke? It can, and here’s why.

Hydration keeps your blood moving

When you're dehydrated, not only are your organs and tissues drier than they should be, but you don't have an optimal quantity of blood, either. The liquid part of blood — plasma — depends on adequate fluid intake to maintain its volume.

No matter what the state of your blood vessels, if your blood is low on fluids, it can’t circulate as well as it needs to. If your blood vessels are narrowed or constricted, however, circulation becomes even more impeded, raising your risk for stroke. 

Fluid-rich blood normalizes your blood pressure. If you don't have enough fluids in your blood, your blood pressure can decrease to dangerous levels. Viscous blood (without sufficient fluids) is dangerous to your brain. In addition to impeding circulation, viscosity concentrates sodium in your blood, which may lead to high blood pressure.

Good hydration supplies nutrients 

Plain old water is a fine way to hydrate, especially because it doesn’t add any calories. However, it’s not the only way to keep your cells and organs hydrated and functional. Other types of healthy liquids supply water plus electrolytes and nutrients that your body needs. Examples include:

  • Milk (if tolerated)
  • Green or black tea
  • Coffee
  • Fruit- or veggie-infused water
  • Sugar-free electrolyte drinks
  • Bone broth

How much water you need and how many electrolytes you need to replace varies significantly by individual. For nonathletes, for example, plain filtered water combined with a healthy diet may supply all needed electrolytes.

If you’re an athlete, however, or if you sweat excessively, you may benefit from adding a pinch of salt to your water. Be sure to check with your doctor to make sure that doing so doesn’t increase your sodium to a dangerous level. Too much sodium can increase your risk for stroke.

Eating foods that are rich in fluids also helps keep you hydrated. Try adding more of these to your daily diet:

  • Cucumbers
  • Tomatoes
  • Celery
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon
  • Zucchini
  • Lettuce
  • Broccoli
  • Peaches
  • Plain yogurt
  • Radishes
  • Grapefruit
  • Grapes
  • Carrots

Avoid foods that are dehydrating or inflammatory. Focus on whole foods and avoid alcohol, trans fats, and sugar.

Hydration helps stroke recovery, too

Dehydration robs your brain of needed fluids, which could lead to dizziness, faintness, and stroke. One of the first things doctors do to help stroke victims recover is administer fluids intravenously. Providing optimal hydration to stroke victims decreases their chances of suffering neurological deterioration. 

If you or someone you know exhibits signs of a stroke, however, don’t try to get them to drink water; they could choke — call 911 immediately. Paramedics can get a stroke victim to the hospital sooner than you can; they can also administer fluids en route. 

Have you or someone you love had a stroke, or would you like more information about how to prevent one? Contact the experienced providers at Advanced Medical Care today for individualized care

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At Advanced Medical Care, care is not just a part of our name — it is in our hearts. Our providers strive to put our patients first and find solutions to meet their needs on every level. If you’re ready to start improving your health, we encourage you to schedule an appointment at our office in Queens or Brooklyn.