Why stroke numbers are increasing and how it can be prevented
Stroke is something that concerns us all in our ever more fast paced world. To add to hectic lifestyles we are bombarded daily with colorful advertisements for jet set lifestyles which include energy drinks and suggestions to load up on coffee that can jettison your blood pressure to new highs and cause a stroke. The name of the game in this high technology era is far too often to rush as fast as possible to get ahead and to forget about taking time to relax and meditate daily. This fast paced type of lifestyle can lead to a stroke and cost you your life.
MedPage Today reports, "Stroke Numbers Up Worldwide." A global study has shown that the overall burden of stroke in terms of absolute numbers of people who are affected around the world is growing. Although this has been found to be true particularly in younger age groups and in low-to-middle-income countries, the threat of stroke is growing and real for us all.
According to Valery Feigin, MD, of the Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, and colleagues, in 2010, there were about 16.9 million people who had a first stroke, 33 million stroke survivors, and 5.9 million people who died from a stroke. This represented dramatic increases of 68%, 84%, and 26% respectively since 1990. The researchers also reported that 102 million disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) were lost, which was up 12%.
If the present trends continue, there will be approximately 12 million stroke deaths, 70 million stroke survivors, and more than 200 million DALYs lost globally each year by 2030. Hemorrhagic, and not ischemic stroke, accounted for the majority of the worldwide burden of deaths and disability-adjusted life years which were lost due to stroke.
The work of Feigin and colleagues shows that, despite some improvements in stroke prevention and management in high-income countries, the growth and aging of the global population has been leading to an increase of young and old patients with stroke. It has been suggested that urgent preventive measures and acute stroke care should be promoted in low-income and middle-income countries, with the provision of chronic stroke care being more well developed worldwide.
The National Stroke Association highlights that up to 80 percent of all strokes can be prevented. Although anyone can be hit with a stroke, certain risk factors can increase your chances of a stroke. Studies show that about 80 percent of strokes can be prevented by working with a healthcare professional to reduce your personal risk of a stroke. The management of personal risk factors for stroke and learning to recognize and respond to stroke signs and symptoms of stroke, are very important.
The U.S. National Stroke Association's Stroke Prevention Advisory Board, made up of the nation's leading experts on stroke prevention, has established the first Stroke Prevention Guidelines. A primary consideration in stroke prevention is that high blood pressure is a major stroke risk factor if it is left untreated. You should have your blood pressure checked regularly by a doctor or at health fairs, a local pharmacy or supermarket or with an automatic blood pressure machine at home.
Another significant stroke risk factor is atrial fibrillation (Afib). Afib is an abnormal heartbeat which can increase stroke risk by 500%. Afib can lead to blood pooling in the heart which may form a clot and cause a stroke. Afib can only be properly diagnosed by a physician.
It is vital to stop smoking to reduce your risk for a stroke. Smoking has been found to double the risk of stroke. Smoking damages blood vessel walls, speeds up the clogging of arteries, raises blood pressure and forces the heart to work harder. Alcohol use has also been linked to stroke in various studies. It is recommended by most doctors not to drink or to drink only in moderation, meaning no more than two drinks each day. Too much caffeine consumption can also cause a stroke by raising your blood pressure.
High cholesterol levels can also increase your risk for stroke. Cholesterol is a fatty substance which is in blood that is made by the body and comes food sources. High cholesterol levels can clog your arteries and lead to a stroke. Your doctor should regularly check your cholesterol levels and treat you if your cholesterol level is more than 200.
Diabetics have particular health problems which can increase their risk for stroke. Sufferers from diabetes should have professional assistance regulating this disorder from their doctor and a dietician. And being overweight also significantly increases your risk for a stroke. There is a strain on the circulatory system with excess weight. It is advisable to get aerobic exercise regularly. You should also maintain a diet which is low in calories, salt, saturated and trans fats and cholesterol. Eating five servings of fruits and vegetables daily is also highly recommended.
Circulation problems should be treated. Fatty deposits which can block arteries carrying blood to the brain and can lead to a stroke. Other circulatory problems such as sickle cell disease or severe anemia should also be treated. It is also important to recognize and treat a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA). A TIA is a temporary episode of stroke-like symptoms which can last a few minutes to 24 hours. TIA's usually cause no permanent damage or disability. The symptoms of a TIA and stroke are the same. Up to 40 percent of people who have a TIA may have a stroke.
Remember most strokes can be prevented. A stroke can be a tragic experience. The desire to prevent a stroke can be a powerful motivation to make positive changes in your lifestyle. There are many things you can begin doing immediately to lower your chances of a stroke. Following are a lost of things you can do to prevent a stroke:
- Cut down on any alcohol intake immediately
- If you smoke stop and stay away from people who smoke.
- Do not drink too much caffeinated coffee and energy drinks.
- Begin eating healthier foods. Add more fruit and vegetables to all of your meals and replace candy, ice cream, donuts and other junk food snacks with fruit and vegetables.
- Cut down the salt in your diet to help control your blood pressure.
- Make certain you exercise regularly to keep your cardiovascular system in shape.
- Find some time to meditate for at least 20 minutes a day. Meditation can relax you and lower your blood pressure.
- Have an annual checkup with your Family Doctor who will carefully check your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
You should begin taking this advice immediately to help prevent a stroke.