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How To Reduce Your Risk Of Stroke

Posted in General Health 29 Apr, 2015

According to the Stroke Association's State of the Nation report, stroke occurs on average 152,000 times a year in the UK – that's one every 3 and a half minutes. The same research tells us that:

  • There are 1.2 million stroke survivors in the UK
  • About 1/3 of survivors will have a recurrent stroke
  • 1 in every 4 strokes is fatal
  • Stroke is world's second largest cause of death

Another fact that is quite staggering relates to the money that we spend on research. For every cancer patient in the UK there is £241 spent annually, for every stroke patient in the UK just £48 is spent.

According to the study, around 80% of all strokes could be prevented, so what can you do to reduce your risk?

Moderate exercise

Regular exercise can help reduce your risk of stroke by up to 27% according to research. Although 'moderate' is a vague term, studies have generally found that the more exercise a person takes, the lower their risk. That is not to say that exercise prevents stroke entirely, but the weight loss that normally accompanies an increase in activity can be directly linked to not only a lower risk of stroke but a better standard of health overall.

Eat your five-a-day

It has for a long time been a staple of good diet guides, and we all know fruit and vegetables (F&V) are good for you for countless reasons. Apparently only 15% of adults in the UK achieve this target however and, unfortunately, research has found a clear association between low F&V consumption and stroke risk, i.e. the less you eat, the higher your risk. However, this could just a correlational relationship, as those who are reaching their F&V targets are likely to be the ones who eat healthily and exercise anyway.

Cut down on the 'bad stuff'

Cutting down on the things you know are bad for you will make a difference but again this advice is somewhat ambiguous - what you personally need to cut down on will be specific to you. If you have a particularly high sugar intake, for example, then you will want to cut down, but that doesn't mean that it will be the same for everyone. It's important that you understand your own dietary needs and, once you do, you can absolutely take steps towards reducing your risk of stroke.

Get regular health checks

Certain medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and poor mental health can increase your risk of stroke, so it's important to seek medical attention if you start to experience new symptoms. This applies even if you've had an existing condition for a long time, as becoming complacent may lead you to miss certain warning signs that your health is at risk. High blood pressure, for example, often has no symptoms, so it's essential to undergo regular tests as the only way to know your blood pressure reading is to get it checked.

Embrace holistic health

A combination of the ideas above is essential for wellbeing, and good health will have a knock-on-effect in reducing your risk of stroke, as well as plenty of other medical conditions. Think of your body as a car, it can stop working when even the smallest part breaks, and regular maintenance is essential to preserve the whole engine – the same is true for your body. Look after the little things – like your weight and fitness – and the rest should follow.

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