Lifestyle changes to reduce probability of brain stroke: know details here
October 29 is celebrated every year as “World Stroke Day”. This is to raise awareness among people about the dangers of getting a brain stroke. It also aims at making people aware of the habits that make one vulnerable to strokes. As a famous English proverb goes, “prevention is better than cure”. It is always better to educate oneself to avoid the possibility of pain in the future.
What is a stroke?
Strokes are medical emergencies that cause damage to brain tissue. One of the most common types of stroke is an ischemic stroke where the blood supply to the brain is cut off.
It is a specific event that damages the brain or causes the death of brain tissue. The most common type of stroke is ischemic stroke. Ischemic strokes happen when something, such as a blood clot, blocks the blood supply to the brain. Without an adequate blood supply, the brain can’t get the oxygen it needs, and brain cells die because of the lack of oxygen.
The extent of functional loss caused by a stroke depends on many factors, such as which part of the brain has been affected, and how quickly the patient gets medical care.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), nearly 3.5 million people worldwide died from an ischemic stroke in 2020.
Factors that increase risk of stroke
A brain attack, stroke can occur at any age and affects men and women alike. However, as per experts at the John Hopkins Medicine, contraceptive pills increase risk of a stroke thereby making women more prone to it than men. This is attributed to the estrogen hormone which is linked to a higher risk of stroke. However, this is not the only risk factor linked to an increase risk of brain stroke.
Certain factors increase stroke risk. However, there are some risk factors that experts have likely not identified and risk factors that are not totally understood. One area of interest is how blood type may increase stroke risk. Anyone can have a stroke at any age. But the chances of having a stroke increase if certain risk factors are present. Some risk factors for stroke can be changed or managed, while others can’t.
Risk factors for stroke that can be changed, treated, or medically managed:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Birth control pills (oral contraceptives)
- History of TIAs (transient ischemic attacks)
- High red blood cell count
- High blood cholesterol and lipids
- Lack of exercise
- Excessive alcohol use
- Illegal drugs
- Abnormal heart rhythm
- Cardiac structural abnormalities
Risk factors for stroke that can’t be changed:
- Older age
- History of prior strokes
- Heredity or genetics
- Area of living
- Temperature, season, climate, and other environmental factors
- Social and economic factors
A recent study has also found a connection between blood types and risk of stroke. Having type A blood was associated with an 18% greater chance of developing early-onset stroke. This included a greater risk of developing blood clots, which can trigger a stroke. In contrast, people with blood type O were 12% less likely to have an early stroke than other blood types.
According to experts, up to 80 percent of strokes are preventable with lifestyle changes.
Some lifestyle changes that can help reduce the risk include:
- Quitting smoking: Up to one-quarter of all strokes are directly attributed to smoking. Smoking makes people twice as vulnerable to suffering strokes. In fact, second hand smoke can also be highly dangerous as it increases the risk of stroke by 20-30 per cent. Smoking reduces the blood in oxygen and increases the blood pressure. Tobacco smoke contains over 4000 toxic chemicals that are deposited in lungs or absorbed into blood stream, damaging the blood vessels. Smoking also makes the blood stickier, leading to blood clots.
- Managing blood pressure: Due to the increased pressure against the walls of the arteries, high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can increase the risk of strokes. Managing blood pressure is of utmost importance to avoid the risk of strokes. The ideal blood pressure for a healthy adult is 120/80 mm HG. Blood pressure can be easily managed with the help of exercise and proper diet.
- Eating well: Good eating habits are vital for maintaining good health. Along with increasing the intake of fresh fruit and vegetables, it is also important to stay away from food that has excessive amount of salt or preservatives. Food with unnecessarily high salt content or canned foods can increase the risk of high blood pressure.
- Exercising: Regular exercise isn’t just helpful to keep the body in shape; it also plays a vital role in maintaining the overall health of a person. Exercising regularly can help maintain all the vital functions of the body. This includes managing diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, etc.
- Managing cholesterol levels: People suffering from high cholesterol are at a risk of getting strokes as cholesterol tends to get deposited in the arterial walls. This effectively blocks and makes them narrower. As a result of this, there is a chance of blockages as well as increased blood pressure. This inevitably leads to strokes. Again, cholesterol levels can be managed by regular exercise and controlled diet.
- Drinking less alcohol: Limiting the amount of alcohol intake can also help prevent strokes. Alcohol is also a reason for high blood pressure which is one of the major factors for stroke. High amount of alcohol can increase the blood pressure at an alarming rate which becomes hard to manage.
- Managing diabetes: High levels of blood sugar are yet another major factor contributing to strokes. If left unchecked, diabetes can block the arteries. This happens due to the fatty deposits that are a direct result of high sugar levels in blood. Diabetes can be managed by regular exercise and healthy eating habits.
- Managing level of stress: Depression, stress or other mental health issues can result in neglect of the points mentioned above. People who are depressed might avoid exercising, or people who are stressed might start smoking to cope up. It is important to have a good grip on mental health. In case there are any symptoms of mental health issues, it is necessary to contact a healthcare professional and take the necessary steps.
NOTE: The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.