Every year in the UK 100,000 people suffer a stroke and it is one of the leading causes of death. That’s approximately one person every five minutes has a stroke and there are currently 1.3 million stroke survivors.
There are many ways you can help prevent a stroke, especially if you are a stroke survivor.
Here we will discuss the causes of stroke and how you can prevent one. You can learn more about the signs of a stroke here.
Causes of a stroke
A stroke occurs when an area of the brain is deprived of oxygen due to a blood clot occluding the blood vessel or the blood vessel bursting. The cells in the part of the brain that is starved of oxygen begin to die. This can lead to brain injury, disability or death.
There are certain conditions that increase the risk of having a stroke. These include:
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
- irregular heart beats
There are also lifestyle choices that can make you more at risk of a stroke such as smoking, drinking alcohol, not being physically active and obesity.
How to reduce your risk of stroke
There are lots of things you can do to reduce your risk of stroke. Changing your habits and lifestyle is not easy but making small incremental changes will have a large impact in the long run.
A healthy diet can decrease your risk of stroke by lowering blood pressure and reducing cholesterol levels. Eat a balanced diet of low fat, high fibre, with lots of fruit, vegetables and wholegrains which are also low in salt and processed foods.
Regular exercise can also help lower cholesterol and keep your blood pressure healthy. Along with a healthy diet it will also help maintain a healthy weight, further reducing the risk of stroke.
For most people it is recommended you do 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. This may be different if you are recovering from a stroke so be sure to discuss with your rehabilitation team first.
Smoking narrows the arteries and increases the risk of blood clots. So quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do to prevent a stroke. The NHS Smoking Helpline can offer advice to help you quit smoking. Visit NHS Smokefree for more.
Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to high blood pressure or trigger an irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation), both of which can increase your risk of having a stroke. Regular drinking significantly increases weight gain and heavy drinkers increase their risk of stroke by 3 times.
If alcohol is an important part of your week, stick to the recommended intake of no more than 14 units a week (for men and women), spread out over a minimum of 3 days.
Many of the medical conditions that increase the risk of stroke will also be improved by addressing the lifestyle factors above. However, often you may be taking medication or other therapies as well. Be mindful of taking care of your condition, taking medication regularly and heeding your doctor’s advice. Doing so will help reduce your risk of stroke.
There is lots of support available for people that need it following a stroke. You can find out more about available help on the NHS website.
The Stroke Association is a great resource for any questions you may have about a stroke.
If you or a loved one need assistance with everyday tasks at home following a stroke, Eximius can help. We provide day and night live-in support for simple day-to-day care and companionship or for more complex medical care needs. Our service is tailored to provide exactly the care that you need and want. For more information contact us here.