Did you know one in four people will suffer a stroke in their lifetime? Stroke happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. Without blood, brain cells can be damaged or die. The good news regarding strokes is that up to 90% of them could be prevented by addressing a small number of risk factors. We share advice below courtesy of the World Stroke Organisation on what you can do to reduce your risk of stroke.
When high blood pressure is left untreated it damages blood vessels and can lead to a number of serious diseases including stroke. More than half of all strokes are associated with hypertension or high blood pressure so it pays to go get a simple blood pressure check and make the right lifestyle changes or go on medication now to reduce your risk of stroke.
Just 30 minutes of exercise five times a week can reduce your risk of stroke by 25%. A whopping 1 million strokes a year are linked to physical inactivity alone.
Making small dietary changes can make a big difference to reducing your risk of stroke. Make good food choices will help you to maintain a healthy weight, reduce your blood pressure and lower your cholesterol, all of which will help you to prevent stroke. The best diet for stroke prevention? A diet that is mostly plant-based with small amounts of meat and fish or what’s known as the ’Mediterranean Diet’.
Being categorised as overweight increases your risk of stroke by 22% and if you are obese that risk increases by 64%. Carrying too much weight increases your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes which all contribute to higher stroke risk.
AF is a condition where the heartbeat is irregular and often very fast. AF is a major risk factor for stroke and strokes caused by AF are more likely to be fatal or cause serious disabilities.
Smoking tobacco increases your risk of having a stroke. If you are a smoker, quitting will reduce your risk of stroke and a range of other diseases. If you live with a non-smoker, quitting will reduce their stroke risk too.
Globally, excessive alcohol consumption is linked to over 1 million strokes each year. Drinking too much alcohol either regularly, or as a ‘one-off’ can increase your risk of stroke.
Cholesterol is a fatty substance that circulates in your blood and is contained in the food that we eat (mostly saturated fats). Stroke is linked to high levels of LDL cholesterol. LDL cholesterol can be managed with lifestyle changes and/or medication. A blood test can tell you what your cholesterol levels are.
1 in 5 people who have a stroke are diabetic. Stroke and diabetes share many risk factors, most of which can be addressed with lifestyle changes and/or medication. Diabetes is diagnosed by a doctor using a simple blood test. If you have diabetes it is important that you talk to your doctor about your stroke risk and how to manage it. Diabetes can be managed with medication, diet and exercise.
Depression and stress
Depression and stress are linked to almost two times a greater risk of stroke and TIA (mini strokes). Around 1 in 6 strokes are linked to mental health.
Want to talk to your GP about your risk factors or to organise some of the simple health checks listed above? Please call Northside Health on 6652 5322 or book online or via the HotDoc app.