Stroke – one of the most fatal types of cardiovascular diseases, and the third leading cause of deaths in Norway. Every year around 15 000 Norwegians are affected by stroke, and the number is expected to increase by 50 % over the next 20 years due to an ageing population.
A stroke is caused by interruption of the blood supply to the brain, usually because a blood vessel bursts or is blocked. This causes damage to the brain tissue, since the supply of oxygen and nutrients is affected. The consequences of a stroke depends on which part of the brain is injured and how severly the injury is. Time between symptom onset and treatment is also a crucial factor for the outcome.
The most common symptom of a stroke is sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm or leg, most often on one side of the body. Other symptoms may be confusion, aphasia, visual disturbances, difficulties with walking, dizziness, severe headache with no known cause, fainting or unconsciousness.
Is there any way to prevent this disease? Some factors, like age and family history of stroke, is unchangeable. However, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself. This months Harvard Health Letter gives 6 tips to lower the stroke risk:
- Smoking is the worst risk factor of smoking – quitting will be a great step to prevent stroke (and several other diseases at the same time, of course).
- Weight loss – a healthy weight is associated with lower prevalence of cardiovascular disease
- Moderate alcohol consumption – according to Harvard this means no more than two drinks a day for a man and one a day for a woman. Bingeing on weekends is not either recommended, even though you don’t drink during the week.
- Lower salt consumption – limit sodium to no more than 2,300 mg per day—and to no more than 1,500 mg per day if you’re over age 50, or have diabetes, kidney disease, or certain other chronic conditions.
- Healthy diet – you already knew, right? Reduce the intake of saturated fat, sugar and red meat, but gorge on vegetables, fruits, fat-free or low-fat dairy, whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds and nuts.
- Exercise – last, but not least; your comfortable couch may represent one of the greatest risk factors of stroke. Get up and move!
Maria Henningsen, CERG