Advert warns to act FAST when you see signs of a stroke
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There are more than 100,000 strokes in the UK every year, with more than a third of these proving fatal. Strokes occur when the blood supply to the brain is cut off. One cause of strokes is having high cholesterol levels as this can lead to blocked blood vessels.
Having particularly thick blood, or increased blood viscosity, can also contribute.
This is because it raises the resistance to blood flow, ultimately increasing pressure on the heart and other organs.
Speaking with Express.co.uk, Doctor Bal Athwal – consultant neurologist at the Wellington Hospital Stroke Rehabilitation Centre in London – explained more about stroke risk factors.
“The risk of stroke increases with age, but there are simple lifestyle habits older adults can adopt to maintain good physical health,” he said.
“Following a healthy diet is the best place to start, which includes avoiding foods that raise blood pressure and damage the brain.”
Specifically he advised against drinking too many sugary drinks. He said: “To reduce your risk of stroke, you should aim to drink healthy beverages that keep you hydrated.
“For example, instead of consuming fizzy and sugary drinks, you should be drinking more water, green teas, low-fat dairy products, smoothies, and natural juices as they lower your risk of dehydration, keeping the blood less viscous, which in turn can prevent a stroke.”
Consuming too much sugar can raise blood sugar, which can in turn make your blood more viscous.
Dr Athwal also recommended reducing intake of trans fats and sodium.
“Sweet food groups such as pies, cakes, cookies, and donuts are high in trans fats, which raise low-density lipoproteins (LDL), also referred to as bad cholesterol and lower high-density lipoproteins (HDL), also referred to as good cholesterol,” he said.
“When this happens, your risk of stroke and heart disease increases. You can reduce these odds by limiting the amount of trans fats you consume to no more than two grams per day. Instead, you should eat foods high in low-density lipoproteins (LDL), such as fruits to help reduce your risk of stroke.
“Processed foods such as canned soup contain too much salt; the extra sodium causes the body to produce and store more water, which leads to high blood pressure, heart disease and increases the risk of stroke.
“As an alternative, you should look out for low-sodium alternatives or make more recipes from scratch, using healthier ingredients.”
The main signs of a stroke can be remembered with the word FAST.
Face – The face may have dropped on one side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have dropped.
Arms – The person with suspected stroke may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of weakness or numbness in one arm.
Speech – Their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake; they may also have problems understanding what you’re saying to them.
Time – It’s time to dial 999 immediately if you see any of these signs or symptoms.
According to the Stroke Association factors that can raise your risk of having a stroke include:
- Age – the older you get the more at risk you are
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Eating unhealthily
- Family history
- Ethnicity – black and South Asian people are more at risk
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Atrial fibrillation.
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