According to the Stroke Association, more than 100,000 people have a stroke every year in the UK.
That’s one around every five minutes.
But did you know that many strokes are preventable?
How can you reduce the risk of a stroke?
*Eat a healthy diet. A healthy diet can help keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels from becoming too high. Try to avoid foods that are high in salt, and processed foods.
*Exercise regularly. Two and a half hours moderately intense activity (such as cycling or fast walking) every week is recommended.
*Avoid smoking. Stopping smoking also helps to significantly reduce your risk of cancers and heart disease. The NHS Smoking Helpline can offer help and advice – 0300 123 1044.
*Keep alcohol consumption moderate. Too much alcohol can increase your likelihood of a stroke threefold.
*Watch your weight. Being overweight increases your chances of developing high blood pressure, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, all of which can increase your stroke risk.
Also, try to avoid stress. It could be as important a risk factor as smoking or high blood pressure.
Recognising the signs of a stroke
Face – it may drop on one side; you may be unable to smile. Your mouth or eye may droop.
Arms – you may be unable to lift both arms and keep them there.
Speech – may become slurred or garbled, or it may be difficult to talk at all. It may also be difficult for the victim of a stroke to understand what’s being said to them.
Time – to call 999 immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.
Other symptoms can include paralysis of one side of the body; dizziness or confusion; a sudden and very severe headache; problems with balance; blurring or sudden loss of vision; and difficulty swallowing. These symptoms may not mean you’re having a stroke, but they can be warning signs – so if in doubt, get checked out.
Be Aware Of Risk Factors
If a close family member has had a stroke, you may be at a slightly increased risk. Likewise if you’re aged 55 or older; if you’re male; or if you’re of South Asian, African or Caribbean origin.