Most families have lost loved ones because of stroke. As the world commemorated World Stroke Day on Saturday, doctors continue to share that stroke is preventable.Ã‚Â London based neurovascular and stroke specialist nurse Emmie Malewezi writes:-
What is stroke?
Stroke occurs when blood supply to the brain is disrupted or cut off. When this happens part of the brain cannot get the blood and oxygen it needs and the brain cells begin to die.
Common signs and symptoms of stroke
- Sudden onset of numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg especially on one side of the bodyÃ‚Â Ã‚Â -Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding,
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination. If you see any of these symptoms please seek medical help immediately!
Steps to prevent a stroke
1. Check your blood pressure regularly
High blood pressure is the leading risk factor for stroke. It is a silent killer because it often shows no signs. The only way of knowing that you have high blood pressure is by having it measured.Ã‚Â If not treated, high blood pressure will damage your arteries leading to stroke. So check your blood pressure regularly and know your blood pressure numbers. A person is usually considered to have a high blood pressure if they have a measurement that is consistently above 140/90mmHg. If this is the case, it needs to be lowered!
2. Know your other personal risk factors
Diabetes, heart disease, irregular heart beat and high cholesterol are medical conditions that can cause a stroke. If these conditions are not treated over time, they increase your risk of having a stroke. Your doctor can prescribe medications to help keep these conditions under control. Regular check up will highlight any underlying problems.
3. Stop smoking
If you smoke quit. If you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t smoke, donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t start! Smoking doubles your risk ofÃ‚Â Ã‚Â stroke because it causes high blood pressure and also makes blood thicker and easier to clot. The chemicals in tobacco smoke are absorbed into the body, damaging blood vessel walls. These increase the risk of stroke.
4. Eat healthy
Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables and aim to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables each day. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables daily means you benefit from a range of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. These include antioxidants such as vitamin A, C, E and beta-carotene. Among many benefits, antioxidants help to prevent damage to your arteries that can lead to stroke.
Avoid eating too much salt. Too much salt can raise your blood pressure. Avoid processed foods and fast foods which contain a lot of salt. Eat fresh foods whenever you can.
Cut down on fatty foods. A diet high in fatty food causes cholesterol to build up in the blood and arteries to narrow. Choose low- fat proteins. Cut down on red meat. Most red meat is high in saturated fat which can be bad for your arteries. Choose fish, poultry (skin removed) or vegetarian alternatives instead.
Being overweight (obese) puts extra strain on the heart and is also a risk factor for high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes all of which can cause stroke. A healthy diet and exercise will help control your weight.
5. Do regular exercises
Regular exercises can halve your risk of stroke. Regular exercises help to lower blood pressure as well as to reduce fat and sugar levels in the body. Just 30 minutes of exercises, five days a week is enough to reduce your risk. You just need to get slightly out of breath and feel a small increase in your heart rate to reap the benefits!
6. Avoid too much alcohol
Drinking too much alcohol raises your blood pressure. Binge drinking (drinking a lot of alcohol in a short time) can cause your blood vessels to burst. Drink in moderation; it may even be good for your health. Limit your alcohol intake to be within the current recommended guidelines. Current recommended guidelines:
Women no more than 2-3 units of alcohol /day (pregnant women should not drink at all).
Men no more than 3-4 units a day. Do not drink every day. Try to have a few alcohol Ã¢â‚¬â€œthree days a week!
As a guide: A unit of alcohol is a small glass of wine (125mls), a single pub measure of spirits or a pint of weak beer or lager (4% Alcohol by volume).
As we commemorate world stroke day 2011, please join in the 1 in 6 campaign by taking the above 6 steps and also telling 6 other people how to prevent stroke. Remember stroke can be PREVENTED.