I was quite shocked to find out that six new cases of stroke occur every hour in my country. Health Minister said the main reason for the increasing number of stroke cases was that many people are leading an unhealthy lifestyle, including being obese, smoking and failure to control hypertension, high cholesterol level and diabetes. My grandfather and an uncle died because of stroke. I spent few hours reading some articles and here is what I have try to rephrase with layman’s words:
What is a Stroke?
Stroke is sometimes called a “brain attack.” A stroke can injure the brain like a heart attack can injure the heart. A stroke occurs when part of the brain does not get the blood it needs.
Two types of stroke:
- First type of stroke happens when blood is blocked from getting to the brain. This often happens because the artery is clogged with fatty deposits or a blood clot.
- Second type of stroke happens when a blood vessel in the brain bursts and blood bleeds into the brain. This type of stroke can be caused by a thin or weak spot in an artery that balloons out and can burst. Arteries can rupture when weak spots on the blood vessel wall break.
Both types of stroke can cause brain cells to die. This may cause a person to lose control of their speech, movement, and memory.
What are the Signs of a Stroke?
Most people have two or more signs. The most common signs are:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm, or leg (mainly on one side of the body)
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance
- Sudden confusion or trouble talking or understanding speech
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
Who Can Get Stroke?
It is not true that stroke occurs only in older adults. A person of any age can have a stroke. But, stroke risk does increase with age. For every 10 years after the age of 55, the risk of stroke doubles, and two-thirds of all strokes occur in people over 65 years old. In fact, stroke also seems to run in some families.
How do I Prevent a Stroke?
This is the more important part of this article. How can we lower the chance of getting stroke? Some stroke risk factors cannot be controlled, such as age, family history, and ethnicity. But you can reduce your chances of having a stroke by taking these steps:
- Know your blood pressure. Your heart moves blood through your body. If your heart has difficulty, your heart works harder, and your blood pressure will rise. If you have high blood pressure, your doctor may suggest you make some lifestyle changes, such as eating less salt and exercising more. Your doctor may also prescribe medicine to help lower your blood pressure.
- Do not smoke. If you smoke, quit. Smoking hastens the hardening of arteries, raises blood pressure, and puts extra strain on the heart.
- Get tested for diabetes. People with diabetes have high blood glucose (often called blood sugar). Having diabetes raises your chances of having a stroke. If you have diabetes, your doctor will decide if you need diabetes pills or insulin shots.
- Get your cholesterol levels checked. Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in all parts of your body. When there is too much cholesterol in your blood, cholesterol can build up on the walls of your arteries. Cholesterol can clog your arteries and keep your brain from getting the blood it needs. This can cause a stroke. You may be able to lower your cholesterol levels by eating better and exercising more. Your doctor may prescribe medication to help lower your cholesterol.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight increases your risk for stroke. Calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI) to have a rough idea whether you are at a healthy weight. Eat a healthy diet and exercise. Eat fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to your diet. Take a brisk walk on your lunch break or take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- If you drink alcohol often, limit it. If possible, quit drinking.
The prevention tips are nothing new. You probably have heard them from someone else or have read them many times too. But, most people are telling themselves, “Look, I am still alive kicking asses. I am doing done. Why should I quit smoking?” Others are putting their hope that they will not be the unfortunate group to have stroke. The thinking of “we will cross the bridge when the time comes.”
Think about your loved ones. Do something about it before too late.
You may want to check out stroke related books and blood pressure monitor from Amazon:
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