Are you at risk of stroke Minimize your risk

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Are you at risk of stroke Minimize your risk

Are you at risk of stroke Minimize your risk

Are you at risk of stroke? Minimize your risk.

Stroke is a lethal disease and unfortunately, the incidence of this condition has increased in India while its incidence is decreasing in developed countries.

In some parts of the countries like in Northeastern India stroke is ahead of cardiac disease as the cause of death. In the last few decades incidence of stroke has increased by 100 % in India while western countries have witnessed a decline of 40 %.

In India incidence is higher in the rural population around 200 per 100000 population compared to a national average of 150 per 100000 population. Every year 1.8 million people suffer from a stroke in India.

Our healthcare infrastructure especially in smaller towns and rural parts is not at all equipped to handle an emergency like a stroke. Ideally, the stroke should be managed by a neurologist but India has only around 2000 neurologists to handle 1. 8 million stroke cases. 

Certain conditions increase your risk of stroke. We cannot completely prevent the risk of stroke but we can decrease the risk.

Certain risk factors can be controlled or modified then other risk factors are not in our control.

We need to take charge of our health by educating ourselves about these risk factors.

Risk factors that can be modified

Once we identify these risk factors we can either prevent them or can start early treatment.

  1. Hypertension – If your blood pressure remains above 120 systolic or more than 80 diastolic on regular basis then you should take it seriously and consult your doctor. Hypertension is one of the leading causes of stroke.
  2. Smoking – the two by-products of smoking carbon monoxide and nicotine both cause damage to our blood vessels and increases the risk of stroke. Even second-hand smoking increases the risk of stroke by 30 to 40%. Make sure you do not smoke and you should not be inhaling other's smoke.
  3. Diabetes – Type 1 and type 2 diabetes is an independent risk factor for stroke and in association with other factors like dyslipidemia, high blood pressure, and overweight it increases the risk of stroke even more.
  4. Diet – high-fat diet is mainly saturated fat content in your diet, transfat, and cholesterol increase the cholesterol level in the blood which predisposes to stroke. Similarly, a high salt diet increases the risk of hypertension. A healthy diet with more green leafy vegetables and weight loss will decrease the risk of stroke.
  5. Lack of exercise – Lack of exercise increases the risk of weight gain, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease. We should aim to do at least 150 minutes of activity during a week.
  6. High cholesterol – by changing our diet we can decrease the risk of hypercholesterolemia and if it is present then it should be treated.
  7. Atrial fibrillation – which is a type of irregular rhythm of the heart should be treated to prevent the risk of stroke.

Other risk factors can not be controlled or treated but we need to be aware of these. 

Age – the risk of stroke increases with age.

Family history – if your close family members like parents, siblings, and grandparents had a stroke then you have a higher risk of stroke. 

Sex – females are at higher risk of stroke than males. Pregnancy, eclampsia, oral contraceptive pills, and post-menopausal hormonal therapy further increase the risk of stroke.

History of TIA and stroke – a person who had a prior stroke or transient ischemic attacks are at much higher risk of having a stroke than another person of the same age. Similarly, f you had a heart attack then you are also at higher risk of stroke.

Dr. Rakesh Rai. MS, FRCS, MD, CCT, ASTS Fellow.