Stroke: How to reduce your risk of the life-threatening condition

More than a third of stroke cases occur in those aged between 40 to 69 years old, a report by PHE stated. In addition, more first-time strokes are now occurring at an earlier age compared to a decade ago.

PHE Director, Professor Julia Verne, is concerned by this trend, and said: “Everyone needs to be aware of the signs.”

  • Face – has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?
  • Arms – can they raise both their arms and keep them there?
  • Speech – is their speech slurred?
  • Time – to call 999

“Calling 999 as soon as you see even one of the symptoms develop is essential,” Professor Verne added.

“Speedy treatment will help prevent deaths and disability,” she added.

The PHE announced: “Around 1.9 million nerve cells in the brain are lost every minute that a stroke is left untreated.”

“If left untreated, a stroke can result in permanent disability or death.”

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The Stroke Association identified three markers for increasing your risk profile of having a stroke. These are:

  • Family history of stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Overweight

High blood pressure is a significant risk factor, contributing to half of stroke cases.

Anybody over the age of 40 is encouraged to monitor their blood pressure – monitors are available to buy at pharmacies.

Lifestyle factors that increase blood pressure are smoking, drinking too much alcohol, being overweight and eating unhealthy foods.

Eating too much salt is also risky, as it will increase your blood pressure reading.

The easiest way to cut down on salt is to eat less salty foods, choose low-salt options if buying packaged foods, and don’t add salt into your cooking.

High blood pressure puts extra strain on all the blood vessels in the body, causing them to become stiff and narrow.

Stiff and narrow blood arteries may cause clots to form; if the clot travels to the brain, it causes a stroke.

High blood pressure also increases the chances of having a bleed on the brain.

The best way to reduce your blood pressure is to take the medication prescribed to you, exercise regularly and lead a healthy lifestyle.

Other risky factors include having diabetes, atrial fibrillation or high cholesterol.

Too much cholesterol – caused by eating fatty foods and an inactive lifestyle – can cause the arteries to become clogged with fatty deposits.

This is another way the blood arteries become stiff and narrow, which can make it harder for blood to flow to vital organs.

There are no warning signs of high cholesterol, so you need to have it checked via a blood test.

Atrial fibrillation is a type of irregular heartbeat, which increases the likelihood of a blood clot forming.

Symptoms of atrial fibrillation include: heart palpitations, breathlessness, chest pain and fatigue.

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