Unfortunately, it is impossible to completely eliminate the possibility of a having a stroke. However, there are several measures you can take to reduce your risk factors.
Suffering a stroke is not something anyone likes to ponder. But awareness of a condition is often the first step towards prevention.
However, when it comes to stroke, it seems that many women are in the dark about the risks involved.
Recent figures from the Stroke Association show that three quarters of women in the UK are unaware that it’s one of the leading causes of death in the world.
That’s despite the fact that a staggering one in five women will suffer a stroke.
What is a stroke?
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain becomes blocked. If the brain doesn’t receive enough blood, brain cells will die, leading to both physical and neurological problems. If cell death occurs in areas of the brain that control crucial processes in the body, this could be catastrophic for the stroke sufferer, possibly resulting in death.
There are two main reasons why blood flow to the brain may become blocked:
- Blood clot. This is the most common type of stroke, responsible for around 85% of cases. Thickened globs of blood cause blockages in the vessels that supply blood to the brain. This is known as an ischaemic stroke.
- Burst blood vessel. This occurs when the tubes that carry blood weaken, eventually bursting and preventing blood from reaching its intended target.
How can I help to prevent a stroke?
As we have seen, strokes are the result of bloods clots and weakened arteries. There are a number of lifestyle changes that can help to reduce the chance of these problems arising.
Eat a balanced diet.
Cholesterol and high blood pressure both increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, which can weaken blood vessels and increase the likelihood of clots. A diet low in fats, sugar and salt is a good way to keep down cholesterol levels.
Smoking increases the risk of blot clots forming by narrowing the arteries. It also impacts on general health, reducing the likelihood of exercising – another good way to prevent strokes. Click here for more information on stopping smoking.
Regular exercise keeps the cardiovascular system in tip-top condition and improves blood pressure. Just two hours a week will improve you health.
Excessive drinking is known to impact on blood pressure and can negatively affect the heart, increasing the risk of stroke.
Keep an eye on your blood pressure.
Raised blood pressure is a major cause of strokes, so regular check-ups to make sure your blood pressure is at a healthy level is important.
The Stroke Association’s Nikki Hill said:
“It’s extremely worrying that most women don’t even have stroke on their radar. We know that women’s stroke risk significantly increases as they get older, and one in five women will have a stroke in their lifetime.
“This should serve as a wake-up call to women of all ages to be aware and better informed of the steps they can take to reduce their stroke risk.
“Simple lifestyle changes, such as keeping blood pressure under control, exercising regularly and stopping smoking, could significantly lower women’s likelihood of having a stroke.”
If you are aged 40 or over, and have not yet had a cardiovascular risk check, you should visit your GP to have your risk of stroke assessed. Depending on the results, your GP may recommend particular lifestyle changes or prescription medicines to reduce your blood pressure.