Stroke can be caused by any of the following: thrombosis and embolism both lead to the cessation of the blood supply to the brain and thus to infarction (tissue death); rupture of a blood vessel in or near the brain may cause an intracerebral haemorrhage or a subarachnoid haemorrhage. Before, strokes were rare to uncommon for individuals under the age of 60. But nowadays, there are cases of individuals suffering a stroke at a younger age.
The symptoms of a stroke usually develop abruptly over minutes or hours, but occasionally over several days. Depending on the site, cause, and extent of damage, any or all of the following symptoms can be present: headache, dizziness and confusion, visual disturbance, slurred speech or loss of speech, and difficulty swallowing. The risk factors of a stroke are age, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis (narrowing of arteries by fatty deposits), diabetes mellitus, smoking, use of oestrogens and diet.
Recent studies show that diet can be a contributing factor in having a stroke. Our food intake has effects on our body especially in the blood vessels and major organs. Eating the wrong types of food is unhealthy and will increase the chance of a stroke. The following are some of them:
Processed meats contain preservatives to prolong their shelf life. Several researches show that sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate can have a damaging effect to the blood vessels, specifically by hardening and narrowing them. Narrowing of arteries is one common cause of stroke. If you consume processed meats on a regular or daily basis, your risk of having a stroke is significantly higher than those who do not, or those who eat it only occasionally. This is particularly true if you are already old or have other risk factors such as smoking.
Soda drinks have high sugar content. It is well documented that it can increase your chance of having diabetes mellitus later in life. Diabetes is a risk factor in having a stroke because the blood vessels are narrowed and constricted, reducing blood flow to the brain. Even diet soda may not be an appropriate substitute. It usually contains an artificial sweetener like aspartame, which is shown to have negative effects in some studies.
Trans-fats are unhealthy because they can cause inflammation and disrupt normal blood flow to the blood vessels in the body, including the brain. They can also increase cholesterol levels in the body. Food products that contain trans-fats are chips, French fries, donuts, crackers,other baked products and pastries. It is advisable to limit the consumption of foods that contain trans-fats.
Red meat contains saturated fats which contribute to atherosclerosis or narrowing of arteries by fatty deposits. A recent study shows that people who eat huge quantities of red meat has a more than forty percent greater chance of having a stroke.
Sodium, popularly known as salt, is a widely used food ingredient. It is used to enrich and add flavour. But too much salt is not good for the health. It can lead to high blood pressure, which can increase the chance of having a stroke.