We will look at preventive steps under 2 broad categories
- Preventing other sicknesses that can lead to a Stroke
- Inculcating habits for a healthy lifestyle
Medical conditions that have been identified as leading causes of a Stroke are diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease.
Therefore if anyone is suffering from one or more of these condition they will need to ensure that they are consulting specialized doctors who can identify the root causes behind these conditions and treat them accordingly, also they must ensure they take the prescribed medicines on time, do medical tests regularly, and also pursue healthy lifestyle habits.
Living and adopting a healthy lifestyle is something that will not only help you overcome the risks of suffering a stroke, but also help prevent or minimise the effects of other non communicable diseases and heart diseases.
When we say a healthy lifestyle it should consider all of the following facets.
- A healthy diet
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Engaging in regular exercises
- Avoiding smoking
- Avoiding or minimizing alchohol intake
We will now look at each of the above points in a bit more details
In pursuing a healthy diet, you need to ensure you eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetable, whole grains and other foods that have high fiber. Also take necessary steps to reduce consumption of fatty foods and salt!
Did you know the recommended maximum daily dosage of salt is 6grams (approximately the amount in a teaspoon)? Maintaining salt consumption within this recommended levels will help you control blood pressure in your body. Meanwhile foods that have a high fiber content will help your body control it’s cholesterol levels.
Being active and engaging in regular exercises will help you maintain a healthy body weight, reduce your cholesterol and control blood pressure. Speed walking, jogging, swimming are some physical activities that anyone can easily engage in. It is recommended that you should atleast exercise for a total of 2 ½ hours per week (30 minutes per day), if there is anyone who can’t exercise continuously for 30 minutes they should try to achieve a cumulative total of 30 minutes by splitting the routine into 3 segments of 10 consecutive minutes!
You need to be aware that consuming alcohol has adverse effects such as increasing blood pressure, creating irregularities in your heart and causing weight gain. All of which are lead causes of stroke.
In conclusion, please be aware that many who suffer a stroke end up with long-term disabilities and face high financial stress due to increased medical expenses. Rehabilitation is long and expensive, it is not just a burden on the one who has suffered the stroke but to those around them and also the government. Stroke and subsequent complications can unfortunately also result in a shortened life span.
Considering all of the above I am sure you would agree preventing a Stroke should be a top priority so that you can enjoy a long and healthy life with those you love!
Dr Wasana Withana
Senior Registrar Doctor, Neurology Unit II, National Hospital - Colombo