A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of your brain is interrupted or severely reduced, depriving brain tissue of oxygen and nutrients. Within minutes, brain cells begin to die.
A stroke is a medical emergency. Prompt treatment is crucial. Early action can minimize brain damage and potential complications.
The good news is that strokes can be treated and prevented, and hopefully many fewer Nigerians won’t die of stroke now than in the past 15 years.
The best way to prevent a stroke is to reduce the risk factors associated with it or rather predisposing one to it.
1. Get your blood pressure checked regularly. Most people moving around everyday are literally “ticking bombs” having a high blood pressure enough to trigger a cardiac arrest. Knowledge of one’s blood pressure helps them manage their emotional balance and physical activities better.
2. Stop smoking. Smoking (both active and passive) causes arteries (blood vessels) to become hardened (reducing elasticity) and more easily blocked. It also makes the blood stickier, thicker (higher viscosity), this increases the risk of blood clot formation in the arteries. Stopping smoking can actually reduce your risk of having a stroke by about 50%.
3. Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight increases your risk of a whole lot of dreadful ill health conditions; diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, all of these increases the risk of stroke. You can get a FREE healthy weight consultation here. See if your weight is just right.
4. Eat more fruit and vegetables. According to the World Health Organisation, low fruit and vegetable intake is responsible for 11% of strokes worldwide. Fruit and vegetables are rich in antioxidants which are thought to protect against stroke, cancers and more.
5. Avoid a high salt intake. It has been estimated that a reduction in current dietary salt intake to the recommended 6g per day would result in a 13% reduction in stroke.
6. Consume alcohol in safe quantities. Regularly drinking large amounts of alcohol can raise blood pressure levels and drinking large amounts at one time (binge drinking) can raise blood pressure to dangerously high levels. Learn more about alcohol here.
7. Eat more fish, especially oily fish. Oily fish is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids which have been proven to naturally act as a blood thinner (preventing blood clots), and lower HDL (bad) cholesterol levels, both of these are implicated in the development of stroke. Omega-3 fatty acids can be gotten from these other source – snails and tropical periwinkles.
8. Increase your physical activity levels. Most people who are less active are more predisposed to suffering from stroke than people who do regular moderate exercise. Because, physical activity increases blood circulation and on the long run burns fat that would have resulted in being overweight and worse still obese.
9. Pay attention to your fat intake, especially saturated fat. Saturated fat increases HDL (bad) cholesterol levels which can result in artery damage due to layering up of fats in the blood vessel which may lead to blockage of the artery, and too much fat overall can contribute to weight gain. To reduce your saturated fat intake, swap fatty red meat e.g beef, goat meat (chevon), sheep meat (mutton) for leaner cuts, take skin off poultry and use low-fat dairy products.
10. Consult your doctor about hormone treatments. Combined contraceptive pills and hone replacement therapy (HRT) may increase the risk of high blood pressure and can also make the blood stickier and more likely to clot. You may also speak to a dietitian/nutritionist about your diet to ensure that you make an informed decision.