The surprising risk factor for having a stroke2022-10-24
Chris Fountain says he ‘felt really stupid’ after mini-stroke
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This includes not eating “too much of any single food”.
This is according to the NHS, who write in their advice on how to prevent a stroke: “Ensuring a balance in your diet is important. Do not eat too much of any single food, particularly foods high in salt and processed foods.”
However, this isn’t their only guidance on strokes. They also write on diet: “An unhealthy diet can increase your chances of having a stroke because it may lead to an increase in your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
“A low-fat, high-fibre diet is usually recommended, including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (five-a-day) and wholegrains.”
Alongside eating a balanced diet of fruit and vegetables, the NHS also recommend exercising regularly.
The health service normally advises a minimum of at least 150 minutes of moderate to intense exercise a week; examples of this include jogging and cycling.
However, this differs if someone has already had a stroke. They write: “If you’re recovering from a stroke, you should discuss possible exercise plans with the members of your rehabilitation team.
“Regular exercise may not be possible in the first weeks or months after a stroke, but you should be able to begin exercising once your rehabilitation has progressed.”
Another act advised as a way to reduce your risk of stroke is to stop doing a certain act, in this case, smoking.
As well as a major risk factor for cancer, smoking can increase your risk of a stroke as it narrows the arteries, making a clot more likely.
The NHS added: “You can reduce your risk of having a stroke by stopping smoking. Not smoking will also improve your general health and reduce your risk of developing other serious conditions, such as lung cancer and heart disease.
“The National Smokefree Helpline can offer advice and encouragement to help you quit smoking.”
What else can I do to reduce my risk?
You can also cut down on alcohol, another common aspect of life which may increase one’s risk of stroke.
As to why alcohol increases your risk, the NHS states: “Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to high blood pressure and trigger an irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation), both of which can increase your risk of having a stroke.
“Because alcoholic drinks are high in calories, they also cause weight gain. Heavy drinking multiplies the risk of stroke by more than three times.”
And if you’re recovering from a stroke, the NHS says: “You may find you have become particularly sensitive to alcohol and even the recommended safe limits may be too much for you.”
Furthermore, what is essential to stroke prevention and stroke recovery is the management of underlying conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, atrial fibrillation (heart palpitations), and transient ischaemic attacks (TIAs).
TIAs are also known as ‘mini strokes’ and are caused by a temporary disruption of supply of blood to a part of the brain.
Symptoms of TIAs are the same as those for a stroke (see infographic above), however, there are some other symptoms which can appear during a TIA.
• A complete paralysis of one side of the body
• Sudden vision loss
• Blurred vision
• Double vision
• Being sick
• Difficulty understanding what others are saying
• Problems with balance and co-ordination
• Difficulty swallowing.
While potential symptoms of TIAs, these could be caused by other conditions.
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