“Over the last couple of decades, the rising incidence of brain stroke has become a formidable health concern in India,” said Dr Jeyaraj Pandian, President, Indian Stroke Association (ISA) Vice-President, World Stroke Organization.
Brain stroke is a condition which affects the brain and is a leading cause of disability and mortality in the country, with nearly 18 lakh cases of stroke being reported each year. “In fact, between 1996-2019, there has been a 100 percent increase in the number of cases in the country. A brain stroke usually begins with a sudden feeling of weakness or numbness on one side of the body followed by difficulty in seeing, speaking or loss of coordination in the body. Strokes may occur either due to restricted blood supply to the brain or the rupture of a blood vessel which results in brain cells dying. When it comes to preventing stroke, healthy lifestyle choices can go a long way,” he continued.
Here are 5 measures you can adopt to reduce the risk of stroke, as suggested by the expert.
The number one risk factor for stroke is hypertension. High blood pressure can damage blood vessels, causing it to narrow, leak or rupture. Regularly monitoring and managing high blood pressure is necessary to prevent a brain stroke.
High blood sugar levels can cause damage to the blood vessels over a long period of time. This could lead to the formation of clots, thus increasing the likelihood of a stroke. Hence, ensuring optimal blood sugar levels is an essential aspect of preventing stroke for those suffering from diabetes.
Ensuring a healthy diet which is packed with fresh fruits and vegetables is a highly effective practice when it comes to preventing stroke. A well-balanced diet with foods that are low on sodium, saturated fats and trans fats, and high on fibre can help lower high cholesterol and high blood pressure, which are both known to increase the risk of stroke.
Staying physically active and exercising regularly does wonders for both your physical as well as your mental health. Additionally, regular exercise can help one lose weight, manage blood pressure, and lower cholesterol levels, thus reducing the chance of having a stroke.
Say No to smoking
Smoking can increase the risk of stroke as it thickens the blood and leads to a higher risk of clots. Thus, quitting smoking can help reduce the risk of stroke significantly.
In the event of a stroke, remember the acronym FAST to identify the symptoms to be able to get the right treatment at the right time:
F: Facial drooping
A: Arm weakness
S: Speech difficulty and
T: Time (to call for medical assistance)
“Time is crucial as one needs to act in the golden period of 4.5 hours from the onset of the symptoms and reach a stroke ready centre with a CT scan and a physician/neurologist. Treatment received within the golden period can help avoid life loss and disability,” he said.