Did you know that over 80 million people in the world have had a stroke? More than 13.7 million people will have a stroke every year. According to the World Stroke Organisation, one in four people aged above 25 will have a stroke. Approximately 60% of all stroke cases are people under 70 years old
The World Health Organisation WHO) notes that Stroke is the second leading cause of death globally. However, it can be prevented by making healthy lifestyle changes.
What Is a Stroke?
A stroke occurs when the arteries supplying blood to the brain are blocked or an artery in the brain ruptures or leaks blood. Due to the blockage or rupture, the brain does not receive enough nutrients and oxygen. As a result, the brain cells start dying within a few minutes. A person with symptoms and signs of a stroke needs emergency treatment to prevent permanent damage or death.
History of Stroke: Early Description
Stroke was first recognised by Hippocrates more than 2500 years ago. He used another term, apoplexy, for this condition.
Centuries later, Cole, a well-recognized physician, used the word “stroke” for the first time in 1689 (Engelhardt, 2017). Over time, medical science made advances and today, physicians can recommend prevention strategies to patients at high risk.
Types of Stroke
There are two different types of strokes – ischemic stroke and haemorrhagic stroke.
This is is more common. During an ischemic stroke, the brain does not receive enough blood and oxygen due to the blocked arteries caused by blood clots and cellular debris.
When an artery in the brain ruptures or leaks blood, the brain cells and tissues start getting damaged, leading to a haemorrhagic stroke.
Symptoms of Stroke
According to the UK National Health Service (NHS), the main symptoms of stroke can be remembered with the word FAST:
- Face – the face may have dropped on one side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have dropped.
- Arms – the person with suspected stroke may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of weakness or numbness in one arm.
- Speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake; they may also have problems understanding what you’re saying to them.
- Time – it’s time to dial 999 immediately (or your local emergency number if different) if you see any of these signs or symptoms.
Your risk of having a stroke is increased if you have:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Irregular heart beats
The main risk factors of stroke include:
- Unhealthy Diet
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Older people are at higher risk
- Men are at higher risk than women
- Obesity or being overweight
Healthy eating, regular exercise, not smoking and not drinking too much alcohol will greatly reduce one’s risk of suffering a stroke.
Another condition called transient ischaemic attack (TIA) is related to stroke. This happens when the blood supply to the brain is temporarily interrupted and causes what is known as a mini-stroke. It can last a few minutes or up to 24 hours.
TIAs are often a warning sign that you are at risk of having a full stroke in the near future and should be treated urgently. You must therefore seek medical advice as soon as possible, even if your symptoms get better.
Diet and Stroke
Diet has an important role in stroke prevention. A review of studies concluded that higher antioxidant, calcium, potassium, fruits, vegetable, vitamins, and whole-grain intake can lower the risk of this condition.
Reducing Stroke Risk: What to Eat
As mentioned already, being overweight, high blood pressure and diabetes increase stroke risk. Adding the following to one’s diet can reduce the risk of stroke.
- Fruits high in potassium like bananas and melon
- Vegetables such as tomatoes and spinach
- Tuna and salmon as they are high in omega 3 fatty acids
- Whole grains like brown rice, oatmeal, etc.
- Low-fat dairy, including yogurt, milk,
Foods to Avoid
People are at high risk of stroke should avoid the following foods:
- Egg yolks
- Red meat
- Hydrogenated oils and deep-fried foods
- Refined grains
How Regular Exercise Can Help in Stroke Prevention
Regular exercise or physical activity reduces stroke risks. Maintaining a healthy weight reduces the risk. The following exercises help in reducing weight and also to maintain a healthy weight – stretching, walking, 30-minute exercise, etc.
Patients who have signs and symptoms of stroke need immediate treatment. Stroke treatment depends on the type.
1. Ischemic Stroke
Patients who suffer Ischemic stroke may need the following treatments:
- Clot breaking drugs
2. Haemorrhagic Stroke
Haemorrhagic stroke treatments include:
Stroke often leads to disability. Doctors usually recommend the following interventions to stroke survivors as part of rehabilitation and recovery – speech therapy, cognitive therapy, physical therapy, etc.
Stroke is preventable when you adopt a healthy lifestyle. To reduce risk, exercise regularly, eat healthy, quit smoking, reduce alcohol consumption and maintain a healthy weight. Also, it is necessary to have regular health checks to help detect any emerging health problems.