Fri, 31 March 2023
The Daily Ittefaq

Stroke: fast action saves lives

Update : 19 May 2022, 08:51

When a stroke happens, more than 1.9 million brain cells die each minute, but time-critical treatment can stop this damage. It needs to be diagnosed and evaluated immediately, so effective treatment can be given in time.

According to doctors, the best time to treat a stroke is within four and half hours after the stroke, to restore blood flow to the brain, stop the progression of the stroke and probably reverse the effects.

People are being urged to learn and share the most common signs of stroke - F.A.S.T. Think of the word F.A.S.T and ask these questions if you suspect a stroke:

Face - Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?
Arms - Can they lift both arms?
Speech - Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
Time - Time is critical. If you see any of these signs, call triple zero (000) straight away.

At least one person in every household and workplace to know the F.A.S.T. signs of stroke at the first sign - no matter how long it lasts. Acting F.A.S.T. can save lives. 

Stroke treatments work best if the stroke is recognised, diagnosed and treated within four and half hours of the incident. This is a very short time especially if the patient's location is far from the hospital. Stroke patients may not be eligible for the above mentioned treatments if they do not arrive at the hospital in time so if you have symptoms of a stroke, do not wait. Prevention is key. Here’s what you can do to reduce your stroke risk.

Know your risk level 

You’re at high risk, for example, if you already have heart disease because you’ve had a heart attack or a stroke or have diabetes.

You’re at risk if you smoke, have high blood pressure (greater than 120/80), have total cholesterol above 200, you’re overweight, you don’t exercise, and/or you eat an unhealthy diet.

You fall into the category of ideal cardiovascular health if your total cholesterol is less than 200, your blood pressure is less than 120/80, your body mass index is less than 25, you don’t smoke, you’re physically active, and you eat a healthy diet. 

Then, based on your risk level, talk to your doctor to determine the best preventive program for you and your heart. If you’re at high risk for stroke because you have diabetes, manage your blood sugar closely. Diabetes is one of the strongest risk factors for stroke because high blood sugar can damage blood vessels over time, creating conditions ripe for a stroke.

Stop smoking

Smoking is a major risk factor for stroke because it increases blood pressure and the tendency for blood to clot, both of which are independent risk factors for stroke.

Oral contraceptives cause problem

Women who take oral contraceptives and smoke are at even greater risk for stroke than women who don’t. 

Exercise your options

Get at least 150 minutes of moderately intense exercise each week, such as brisk walking or 75 minutes of vigorously intense physical activity. such as jogging or singles tennis. Consistency is key for a healthy heart and to help avoid weight gain, which is common as we get older because metabolism slows with age.

Obesity is a major risk factor

Obesity is bad for all cardiovascular disease, including stroke. 

Eat to beat stroke

What’s good for your heart is also good for the blood vessels that feed your brain. Center your diet around fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, such as oatmeal and whole-grain bread. Eat fish twice a week, preferably fatty fish, such as salmon.

Limit salt intake and cut trans fats

Limit salt to less than 1,500 milligrams per day. Cut out trans fats and keep dietary cholesterol and saturated fat low by eating fewer fried foods, meat, packaged desserts, butter, cheese, and other high-fat dairy products, such as sour cream and ice cream. Limit alcohol to one drink daily or less.

Know your numbers

Get a checkup to get the facts: What’s your blood pressure, total cholesterol, LDL “bad” cholesterol, HDL “good” cholesterol, triglycerides level, glucose (HbA1c), body mass index, and waist circumference? High blood pressure (140/90 or more) can up your stroke risk; below 120/80 is ideal. Optimal total cholesterol is less than 180; fasting blood glucose should be less than 100; and your body mass index should be less than 25.

Try lifestyle tactics to improve your numbers, such as changing your diet and losing weight. If that doesn’t help, talk to your doctor about drug therapy.

Talk to your doctor about aspirin therapy

Daily aspirin use for women with heart disease, diabetes, or stroke to protect themselves from future attacks, unless your doctor tells you there’s a medical reason not to. Routine aspirin use isn’t recommended for healthy women under 65.

Don’t ignore symptoms

A common one in women is atrial fibrillation — an irregular rhythm that causes one of the heart’s chambers not to beat properly. A clot can develop because of abnormal blood flow, causing a stroke. If you notice that your heart develops the tendency to occasionally beat rapidly and then slow down, see your doctor. You might also experience other symptoms, such as lightheadedness or difficulty breathing. A stroke from atrial fibrillation is preventable with blood-thinning drugs. 



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