Stroke is a significant economic, social, and medical problem as well as a leading cause of death and diasability in adults worldwide.
However, the good news is that stroke is largely preventable.
With strict adherence the following comprehensive risk reduction strategies, you can put yourself on the path of a stroke-free adult life:
- Know the risk factors: You are more likely to come down with stroke, compared with your age mates, if you are obese, smoke, have sedentary lifestyle, have high blood pressure or diabetes, or if you have a family member that have had stroke.
Knowing these is the first step in the prevention of stroke.
If you have any of the above risk factors, consult your doctor!
- Keep a close eye on your blood pressure using the blood pressure machine (sphygmomanometer): Buy one and use it to measure your pressure regularly.
Several machines use batteries and do not require any special knowledge. Read manufacturers' instruction manual and read off the digital results.
Measurement once every few months is adequate. More often at the discrection of your doctor if higher.
Normal blood pressure is 120/80.
- Reduce the intake of salt through food and drinks: High salt intake retains water and leads to high blood pressure.
- Exercise regularly: Run, walk, swim or participate in some sporting activity everyday to keep your heart in tip top condition (avoid isometric exercises such as weight lifting).
This keeps the blood flow moving and prevents stargnation in the legs.
Exercise has been shown to improve the general well being and also increases the life span.
It is associated with a reduced risk of stroke or death campared with individuals with low activity.
This is mediated, in part because of its beneficial effects in burning sugars and fats (Lowering your blood sugar, fats and assisting in keeping a good weight), Lowering your blood pressure, increasing oxygen levels in your body, reducing stress, strengthening your heart, muscles and bones, improving blood circulation and toning your muscles.
It also reduces the risk of other illnesses, such as cancers, diabetes and heart diseases.
Active people usually feel better, happier, likely to sleep better and have more energy, self-confidence, and concentration.
You do not have to be in training for Olympics to get these benefits
Walking, gardening, or doing housework for at least 30 - 60 minutes on most days of the week can help you.
Walk, run, jog, exercise, play, dance, just do something!
- Take one tablet of Aspirin a day (75 - 300mg): Highly recommended for those above 60 years of age and in those with irregular heart beat.
It reduces the viscosity of the blood by preventing blood cells clumping together (blood clots) and blocking the arteries.
- Check the level of fat in your diet: This is highly recommended in people above the age of 40 years, overweight, diabetics, individuals that suffered a previous stroke and those with faulty heart.
Reducing the amount of animal fat (red meat) in your food, regular exercise and taking cholesterol reducing medications (statins) if indicated are adviced.
Fast foods contain a lot of sugary, salty, fatty and fried food. There is need to have a rethink on your fast-food diets.
- Keep an ideal weight. Being overweight is a risk factor for high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Keep your weight in proportion to your height.
- Eat healthy diet: Food high in fibre help control blood fat levels.
A diet low in salt and saturated fat, high in fruit and vegetables, and rich in fibre is recommended.
Eat more of whole-grain cereals, porridge, brown rice, whole-wheat bread and pasta, and grains.
- Look after your health: Attend a well man or a well woman clinic once in a while to have regular check up and routine tests performed especially when you have the risk factors for stroke.
This could potentially help with timely prevention of a stroke and the doctor or nurse will give useful medical advice.
- Modify your lifestyle: Avoid destructive activities such as smoking, alcoholism, and taking hard drugs.
Credits: Prof. Yomi Ogun (Consultant Neurologist) and Dr. Biodun Ogungbo (Consultant Neurosurgeon)