On World Stroke Day (29 October), health experts in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire are encouraging people to take steps to lower their risk of having a stroke by following some essential lifestyle tips.
A stroke can happen to anyone at any time and one in four adults will have a stroke in their lifetime leading to death or disability. Stroke survivors can face significant challenges that include physical disability, communication difficulties and changes in how they think and feel.
Up to 90% of strokes can be prevented by addressing small risk factors and here Dr Phil Simons, Clinical Lead for Stroke and Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group and Dr Phil Clatworthy, a Consultant Stroke Neurologist at North Bristol NHS Trust and Director of the Bristol Health Partners Stroke Integration Team (HIT), share their tips for helping to prevent stroke.
Dr Simons said: “It’s essential to know the signs of stroke so that you can act quickly to get help. Please don’t put off getting help during the pandemic if you are concerned that either you, or someone you know, has had a stroke.”
Dr Clatworthy added: “One in four adults will have a stroke but the good news is there are lots of small lifestyle changes that you can make to reduce your risk. I would urge everyone to take the opportunity of World Stroke Day to look at ways you can make some change to bring down your risk of stroke.”
Ten Tips For Preventing Stroke
Blood pressure: One of the best ways to prevent a stroke is to keep your blood pressure at a healthy level. You can do this by keeping active and maintaining a healthy weight. Investing in a blood pressure monitor will help you to keep an eye on your numbers.
Diet: Half of stroke cases are linked to poor diet so aim to follow a diet that is high in vegetables and fruit and only eat a small amount of meat. Try to avoid processed foods and limit the amount of salt you eat; try not to add salt to food, and avoid eating more than 1 teaspoon (6g) a day as too much salt will increase your blood pressure.
Exercise: Getting regular exercise can reduce your risk of stroke by 25%. For most people, at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as cycling or fast walking, every week is recommended. If you're recovering from a stroke, you should discuss possible exercise plans with the members of your rehabilitation team.
Smoking: Smoking significantly increases your risk of having a stroke because it narrows your arteries and makes your blood more likely to clot. You can reduce your risk of having a stroke by stopping smoking. Not smoking will also improve your general health and reduce your risk of developing other serious conditions, such as lung cancer and heart disease. The NHS Smoking Helpline can offer advice and encouragement to help you quit smoking. Call 0300 123 1044, or visit NHS Smokefree.
Alcohol: Regularly drinking too much alcohol raises your risk of a stroke. To keep health risks low, it’s best to drink no more than 14 units a week, and to spread the units over the week. The limit is the same for men and women.
Medication: If you have a medical condition that is increasing your risk of stroke, make sure you take the medication you’re prescribed. If you have any questions about your medication, go back to your doctor or pharmacist and ask.
Manage other conditions: If you have been diagnosed with a condition known to increase your risk of stroke, ensuring the condition is well controlled is also important for helping prevent strokes.
Get checked: Some medical conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes can speed up the process and increase your risk of having a stroke. Regular check-ups with your GP, especially as you get older, will pick up on any problems. If you get invited to an NHS Health Check, make sure you go and get checked.
Know your risks: You can assess your risk stroke by going to www.strokeriskometer.com.
Know the signs: By knowing the symptoms of stroke you can act quickly to get help which can lead to a better outcome. Remember the F.A.S.T test – F (Facial weakness) A (Arm weakness) S (Speech problems) T (Time to call 999)