Stroke is one of the leading causes of disability and death not only in India but all over the world. World Stroke Day is observed on 29 October every year to highlight the global need to prevent strokes, spread awareness, and to provide care to people who have suffered from strokes.
A stroke occurs when the supply of blood to the brain is stopped or blocked. Without a steady supply of blood, the brain’s cells start to die. As the brain dies slowly, without any medical intervention or treatment, so does the body. Once a stroke occurs, symptoms may start showing up. These symptoms are likely to have very different presentations among men and women.
Risk factors for stroke
While increasing age makes you more susceptible to strokes, they can actually occur at any age if your health is not at its best. The following are some of the major risk factors for stroke:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Heart disease
- Brain aneurysms
- Family history of strokes
Strokes can be prevented to a large extent if you take your health seriously and control the above-mentioned risk factors. The following are some preventive steps you can take.
1. Control your blood pressure
High blood pressure is one of the biggest contributors to stroke in both men and women. Maintaining a blood pressure of less than 120/80 mmHg is very important if you want to prevent the occurrence of strokes. Maintaining a healthy diet, exercising, and quitting smoking and alcohol are the necessary steps you need to take.
2. Maintain a healthy weight
Overweight and obesity are not only risk factors for hypertension but for stroke as well. Studies suggest that if you are overweight, losing even a few kilos can reduce your risk of stroke by a significant rate. Getting at least 30 minutes of exercise every day, eating a balanced diet, getting sufficient sleep every night, and keeping stress at bay can help you lose weight and keep it away.
3. Manage your blood sugar
Having diabetes, being prediabetic, or even having higher than normal blood sugar can affect your blood vessels. High blood sugar can erode your arteries and veins in the long run and increase your risk of stroke. So, it’s very important that you consume a healthy diet and keep your blood sugar in check.
4. Quit tobacco and alcohol
Alcohol can affect your blood pressure, blood sugar, and blood vessels in general. This is why avoiding alcohol is a good idea. If you do drink, limit it to a drink a day if you’re a woman, and two drinks a day if you’re a man. Similarly, tobacco consumption and smoking can harm the blood vessels and have a clotting effect on the blood. This increases the risk of strokes, so kicking the habit is highly recommended.
5. Don’t ignore the signs
Strokes occur, escalate, and cause death in most cases because people tend to ignore their symptoms. Identifying the symptoms and getting help promptly is essential, whether the stroke is happening to you or someone around you.