A stroke is damage to part of the brain caused by interruption to its blood supply or by leakage of blood through the walls of blood vessels. Sensation, movement, or function controlled by the damaged area is impaired. Strokes can be fatal and are a leading cause of death in developed countries.
There are several factors that increase the risk of having a stroke. The 2 most significant are hypertension (high blood pressure), which weakens the walls of the arteries, and atherosclerosis (narrowing of arteries by fatty deposits). Other factors that increase the risk of stroke include atrial fibrillation (a type of heartbeat irregularity), a damaged heart valve, and a recent heart attack. All of these conditions can cause blood clots in the heart which may break off and migrate to the brain. Polycythaemia (a raised level of red cells in the blood), hyperlipidaemia (a high level of fatty substances in the blood), diabetes mellitus, and smoking also increase the risk of stroke.
There is a saying that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. There are things that you can do to prevent a stroke. Here are some of them:
Monitor Your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure or hypertension is a risk factor in having a stroke. It is important to check the blood pressure at regular intervals especially if you are an older person. Hypertension usually causes no symptoms until detected by a doctor during a routine physical examination. In severe cases, headaches, shortness of breath and visual disturbances may be experienced.
The carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke decreases the amount of oxygen reaching the tissues, and in the long term can lead to atherosclerosis (accumulation of fatty deposits in the arteries). Arterial disease makes smokers more likely than non-smokers to have a stroke.
Having regular exercise is an important means of improving health. Exercise gives a general sense of well-being by keeping the muscles and bones in good health, slowing down the ageing process and improving fitness levels. Exercise can improve the efficiency of the heart and lungs. Most importantly, it reduces the risk of having coronary artery disease, heart attack and stroke.
Avoid Stress And Anxiety
A stressful lifestyle can increase the chance of having a stroke. A person who is stressed out usually lacks sleep and rest. Having enough hours of sleep allows the body to recharge and heal. Stress and anxiety can lead to bad habits such as smoking and alcohol dependence. It is important to manage stress levels at work and at home. Some helpful measures are meditation and yoga.
Eating a nutritious and well-balance diet is essential to good health. Fresh fruits and vegetables, bread and cereals, fish, lean meat and milk should constitute a healthy diet. They provide protein, vitamins and minerals giving energy and allowing the body to function properly. Fruits that have high level of antioxidants like grapes reduce the risk of having a stroke by improving blood circulation. Avoid or limit your consumption of salt, trans-fats and processed meats.