The human body is disciplined and even the slightest irregularity can completely throw off the balance, resulting in health problems. Stroke is one such condition that takes years of neglect and ignorance to either leave a person disabled or take them to their deathbed.
Here’s everything you need to know about stroke, the risks, and prevention measures you can take to promote health and longevity.
What is Stroke?
Your brain is immersed in a closely knit web of blood vessels that provide essential nutrients to the brain cells. When and if this blood supply is hampered via a clot or narrowing of vessels, the brain cells can no longer perform their function and hence cause disability which may be temporary or permanent.
Stroke can affect speech, memory, logic, thought process, body movements, sensations, internal body functions, and everything else that defines a person. The affected individual loses the ability to control facial expressions, perform simple actions like raising hands and might even face difficulty in speaking. These symptoms point towards the incidence of a stroke and are abbreviated as FAST (Face Drooping, Arm Weakness, Speech Difficulty, and Time to Call Emergency). These should be immediately followed up by an emergency visit to the hospital.
Who Are At Risk?
There are factors that put you at a higher risk of stroke. But as with pretty much every medical complication, these factors aren’t decisive and don’t necessarily mean trouble. Here’s what years of research on this subject have revealed:
- Age: As you grow old, your blood vessels lose their flexibility and become narrower naturally.
- Family History: If someone in your immediate family has suffered from a stroke, it puts you at a high risk because you share the same genetic makeup as your loved one.
- High Blood Pressure: If you consistently have high blood pressure and you’re not taking any medication for it, you’ll eventually end up damaging your blood vessels.
- High Cholesterol: Cholesterol (a type of fat) when deposited in your blood vessels narrows them, hampering normal blood flow and creating unnecessary high pressure, even damaging the vessels.
- Diabetes: Diabetes promotes fatty deposits in your blood vessels which narrows them, hindering normal blood flow.
- Atrial Fibrillation: Irregular heartbeat promotes clotting in the blood, which can travel to the brain and cause a stroke.
- Migraines and other forms of headaches: Research shows that people suffering from migraines and/or other forms of a headache are at a higher risk of strokes.
- Heart Diseases: Diseases of the heart increase your risk of stroke by either damaging the vessels, creating blood clots, or obstructing blood flow in one way or another. If you have a known heart disease, make sure you follow its cure religiously to prevent associated medical complications like a stroke.
How to Prevent a Stroke?
For the most part, you can reduce your chances of getting a stroke but you cannot entirely eliminate them. There’s little you can do about your genetic makeup or about certain heart conditions; they’re there as your most faithful companion.
However, certain lifestyle changes can make a wealth of difference in keeping you and your heart healthy.
- Healthy Eating: Keep diabetes, cholesterol and blood pressure (to some extent) under check by eating healthy. Avoid processed sugars, excessive fats, and excessive salts. If you can’t let go of junk foods, you can at least try substituting part of it with healthier alternatives like salads, nuts, unprocessed foods, etc. Your blood vessels will thank you later.
- Exercising: Almost every health-related piece has this advice: regular exercise. It is that beneficial for you! Not only is it burning off calories and putting your muscles in action, it is also promoting healthy blood flow, reducing the chances of a stroke. You can even shed those extra pounds to achieve the body you’ve always wished for. Have at least a thirty-minute routine that gets your heart rate up. It’s a total win-win for you!
- Quit Smoking: Particularly when it comes to heart conditions and stroke, smoking is a major contributor. It not only increases the chances for blood clotting but also narrows the blood vessels, putting you at twice the risk. No matter how long you’ve smoked, quitting is the right thing to do if you want to prevent strokes.
- Drink Responsibly: We all know those party people who drink like a fish. If you’re hoping to stay healthy and prevent strokes, you wouldn’t want to be one. Alcohol can increase your blood pressure. If you’re consuming alcohol in excessive quantities regularly, you’re putting yourself at a higher risk of stroke. If you can’t quit, you at least have to limit it to acceptable quantities.
- Stay Calm: Nobody has their lives all sorted out, no matter how hard they fake it. It is okay to let things slip. There will be times when everything in your life will go wrong. Survive it, one day at a time. Do not let trials put you on the path of self-destruction. The more you let stress and disappointment control your life, the higher the chances of drug and substance abuse, which puts you at a higher risk for strokes. Practice meditation to overcome negativity. Seek professional help if nothing seems to be working for you. Mental health counselors now have incorporated telemedicine into their practice. This means you can contact them using your smartphone or laptop. Remember, the calmer you stay in the face of adversity, the better it is for your short term and long term health goals.
A stitch in time saves nine. Don’t let it knock on your door for you to realize what you are up against. Get your battle stance ready when it can still work. All the best!
Judy Robinson is a passionate health and lifestyle blogger. She loves to write about women’s healthy lifestyle, fitness 101 and DIY related topics. Follow @judyrobinson for more updates.