A stroke happens when blood supply to the brain is either severely reduced or interrupted. Insufficient supply of blood to the brain tissue deprives it of nutrients and oxygen; it takes just a few minutes for brain cells to start dying. A stroke is a serious medical emergency that requires prompt treatment because immediate action can minimize the damage to the brain and ultimately reduce potential complications. According WSO (World Stroke Organisation) 140,000 people die from stroke annually in the United States and strokes remain the leading cause of long-term disability. Close to a third of person who get strokes are above the age of 65.
There are two main type of stroke. Ischemic strokes are more rampant and they happen when a blood clot blocks an artery, an embolic stroke occurs when a clot forms in the heart in a blood vessel that carries blood to the brain, the clot breaks of then travels to the brain. On the other hand a haemorrhagic stroke happens when an artery found in the brain ruptures causing a release of blood to the brain. Symptoms of a stroke include trouble speaking and comprehending, face numbness, paralysis of leg or arm, trouble seeing wither in one or both eyes, a sudden severe headache that is usually accompanied by loss of coordination and sudden dizziness, difficulty walking.
How to avoid strokes
It is important to start reining in your risks early to prevent and reduce the chances of getting a stroke in future. Here are the most effective preventative measures:
Decrease your blood pressure
High blood pressure is the biggest factor in doubling and some time even quadrupling the risk of getting a stroke. Having a consistent high blood pressure is the biggest contributor to the chances of getting a stroke in both women and men. This requires closely monitoring blood pressure. If it is elevated, it should be treated effectively. The objective is to maintain a blood pressure that is lower than 135/85. For some people a less aggressive goal of 140/90 will suffice.
How achieve a low enough blood pressure to avoid getting a stroke
- Reduce salt consumption to no more than 1500 milligrams daily (this is ½ a teaspoon)
- Avoid consuming high-cholesterol foods such as ice cream, burgers and cheese
- Eating four to five cups of vegetable and fruits daily, one serving of fish 3 times in a week and several daily servings of low-fat dairy and whole grains
- Exercise regularly at least thirty minutes of physical activity on a daily basis
- If you smoke quit immediately
- Check with a doctor if is necessary to consume blood pressure medications.
Loose excess weight
It is well documented that obesity and all the complication linked to it including diabetes and high blood pressures raise the chances of getting a stroke. Loosing as little as ten pounds can substantially reduce the risk of getting a stroke. The goal is to have a BMI index of 25 or less. If that is not a realistic number for you, your doctor will advise on what number works for you and weight loss strategies that will help you achieve it.
Here are some ideas on losing weight healthily that will help reduce the risk of getting a stroke
- Try to east between 1500 to 2000 calories in a day (this varies according to the current BMI and activity level)
- Exercise more by engaging in physical activities that are also enjoyable such as swimming, golfing, walking and playing tennis.
If you consume alcohol, do it in moderation
Several studies have shown that one drink (1 glass) in a day can reduce the chances of getting a stroke. However two drinks day will sharply increase the risk of getting a stroke. The goal is not to drink alcohol or stick to a glass daily.
Atrial fibrillation should be treated
This is a form of irregular heartbeat that can cause clots in the heart. These clots formed in the heart can travel to brain and cause a stroke. According to researchers atrial fibrillation carries a fivefold risk of stroke and must be addressed immediately. If you have any symptoms that may indicate this condition such as shortness of breath and heart palpitations, visit the doctor and get the condition treated. Typically treatment involves taking a blood thinner (anticoagulant)
Prevent and treat diabetes
Diabetes is characterized by high blood sugar levels which progressively damage blood vessels overtime. If you have diabetes the goals is to keep the blood sugar low by monitoring sugar levels as directed by the doctor and eating right, exercising and taking drugs to keep blood sugar levels low.
An all round healthy lifestyle will go a long way in reducing the chances of getting a stroke.