Here are six steps anyone can take to reduce the risk and the danger of stroke:
- Know your personal risk factors: high blood pressure, diabetes, and high blood cholesterol.
- Be physically active and exercise regularly.
- Maintain a healthy diet high in fruit and vegetable and low in salt to stay a healthy state and keep blood pressure low.
- Limit alcohol consumption.
- Avoid cigarette smoke. If you smoke, seek help to stop now.
- Learn to recognize the warning signs of a stroke.
Low Salt Diet
It is recommended that salt intake be reduced to less than 5g a day to lower the risk of having a stroke.
- Salt raises our blood pressure
- The higher our blood pressure, the higher our risk of stroke
- Adults should have less than 5grams of salt a day, and children even less
- It is particularly important that children do not eat too much salt, as blood pressure first starts to rise in childhood
- Much of the salt we eat is in everyday foods such as bread, sauces, cheese and processed meat, as well as salt added at the table and during cooking
- Take time to get used to lower salt food, and you will enjoy it as much, if not more, than salty food
Atrial Fibrillation and other Heart Conditions
Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is an under-diagnosed and under-treated heart condition and a major risk factor for stroke. AF causes the two upper chambers of the heart (the atria) to quiver instead of beating effectively, resulting in blood not being completely pumped out, which in turn causes pooling and can lead to clotting. These clots can travel to the brain and trigger a major and often fatal stroke. Stroke due to AF is highly preventable by anti-clotting drugs.
WSO recommends that persons who have experienced a heart attack, have been diagnosed with a heart ailment or have irregular heart rhythm, to regularly visit health services in order to prevent the occurrence of a stroke.
Stroke Warning Signs
The FAST test is an easy way for everyone to remember and recognize the signs of stroke. FAST stands for Face, Arms, Speech and Time to act:
Face - Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?
Arms - Can they lift both arms?
Speech - Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
Time - Is critical. If you notice any of these warning signs, act FAST. Call your local emergency medical services or get to the nearest hospital immediately.
Think FAST. Act Fast. Stroke is a medical emergency.