LIFESTYLE

How To Spot The Symptoms Of Stroke, Plus Tips On Prevention

The UK is 'sleepwalking towards a stroke crisis' according to experts.

19/09/2017 11:16

It’s estimated there’ll be a 59% rise in the number of people suffering a stroke over the next 20 years, according to a study by the Stroke Association.

The charity blames high blood pressure, linked to inactivity and poor diet, as well as the fact people are living longer for fuelling the rise.

Dominic Brand, director of external affairs at the Stroke Association, said we must act now “to prevent the UK from sleepwalking towards a stroke crisis”.

The charity said investing £10 million in research could save 114,000 people from having a stroke by 2035.

Juanmonino via Getty Images

What is a stroke?

A stroke typically occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. It is a serious, life-threatening medical condition which can result in death.

Who is at risk?

Roughly 110,000 people have a stroke in the UK each year. It was the second biggest killer globally in 2015, after ischaemic heart disease, according to the World Health Organisation.

Older people are most at risk of having a stroke. However they can occur at any age - including in children.

Symptoms

One of the main symptoms of stroke, according to the NHS, is when the muscles on one side of the face droop, which results in the person not being able to smile. In some cases, the mouth or eye area might have dropped too.

People experiencing a stroke may not be able to lift both of their arms and keep them there - usually because of arm weakness or numbness.

Additionally their speech may become slurred or “garbled”. In some cases, the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to act fast and call 999 immediately. Speed is key with treating stroke, and the quicker a person is able to be treated, the less chance there is of permanent damage.

Prevention

Like many other health complaints, simple changes in lifestyle - including eating healthily and exercising more - can reduce your risk of stroke.

Alice Mackintosh, nutritionist at The Food Doctor said: “Though genetic predisposition plays a part in the development of cardiovascular issues, it has been hypothesized that most cases of stroke can be prevented by living a healthy lifestyle, thereby reducing risks of further compromising heart health.

“Factors that can make one more susceptible to strokes include: smoking, stress, low physical activity, a high saturated fat diet, high cholesterol levels, uncontrolled diabetes and high blood pressure.”

Nutritionist Karen Poole says it’s important to add liver-supporting foods into your diet to help regulate cholesterol. These include onions, garlic, cabbage, fennel, broccoli, watercress, celery, radish, rocket, chicory, garlic, artichoke and spinach.

Additionally, cutting down on pastries and fatty meats, consuming plenty of Omega-3 (found in fish such as salmon and mackerel) and stocking up on B12, folic acid and B2, can help lower your risk.

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