…Continued from edition #19-20…
The following will increase the risk of stroke:
Chronic conditions – high blood pressure, arterial fibrillation, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity.
Behaviors – smoking, lack of exercise, heavy use of alcohol.
Diet – unhealthy diet.
Family history of stroke and age.
A stroke can sometimes cause temporary or permanent disabilities, depending on how long the brain lacked blood flow and which part of the brain was affected. Complications may include:
Paralysis or loss of muscle movement. The affected person may become paralyzed on one side of his body, or lose control of certain muscles, such as those on one side of his face or one arm. Physical therapy may help him return to activities hampered by paralysis, such as walking, eating and dressing.
Difficulty talking or swallowing. A stroke may cause the affected person to have less control over the muscles in his mouth and throat move, making it difficult for him to talk clearly, swallow or eat. He may also have difficulty with language, including speaking or understanding speech, reading or writing. Speech and language therapy may help.
Memory loss or thinking difficulties. Many people who have had strokes experience some memory loss. Others may have difficulty thinking, making judgments, reasoning and understanding concepts.
Emotional problems. People who have had strokes may have more difficulty controlling their emotions, or they may develop depression.
Pain. People who have had strokes may have pain, numbness or other strange sensations in parts of their bodies affected by stroke. For example, if a stroke causes the person to lose feeling in his left arm, he may develop an uncomfortable tingling sensation in that arm. People also may be sensitive to temperature changes, especially extreme cold after a stroke. This complication is known as central stroke pain or central pain syndrome. This condition generally develops several weeks after a stroke, and it may improve over time.
Changes in behavior and self-care ability. People who have had strokes may become more withdrawn and less social or more impulsive. They may need help with grooming and daily chores.
Preventing a stroke
The best way to prevent a stroke is to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight and avoid smoking and drinking too much alcohol.
These lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of problems such as atherosclerosis (where arteries become clogged up by fatty substances), high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and diabetes all of which are important risk factors for strokes.
If the person has already had a stroke, making these changes can help reduce his risk of having another one in the future.