Wish to lower risk of stroke? Keep diet, workout regime in check

By Dr Chandril Chugh

For ages, we have known that prevention is better than cure, and this holds true for too. Stroke or brain attack is preventable and is a lifestyle-associated disease like many others nowadays. So, in a way, stroke is a matter of choice and you can choose to prevent it. In the majority of cases, stroke is the result of years of wrong diet and an unhealthy lifestyle. If we can change our diet and lifestyle, most strokes can be prevented. Preventing a stroke is not rocket science; it’s simple and can be done easily.

Brain Attack Or Stroke
Sudden loss of function is known as brain attack or stroke. Brain attack can be due to a blocked vessel (medically known as an ischaemic stroke) or due to a ruptured blood vessel (haemorrhagic stroke or a subarachnoid haemorrhage).

Is It An Emergency?
Yes.

Stroke may cause one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Weakness and numbness on one side of the body
  • Difficulty in speaking and understanding words
  • Drowsiness
  • Loss of vision
  • Severe headaches

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Symptoms depend on which part of the brain is affected. If not treated on time, the weakness and other neurological deficits may become permanent and extremely disabling. Stroke can sometimes lead to even death.

Recognising A Stroke
Remember the 7S method to diagnose and respond to a stroke:

  1. Sudden (symptoms usually start suddenly)
  2. Slurred speech (speech is not clear, as if drunk)
  3. Side weak (face, arm or leg or all three can get weak)
  4. Spinning (vertigo)
  5. Severe headache
  6. Sight (loss of vision)
  7. Seconds (note the time when the symptoms start and rush to the hospital because time is crucial in stroke management and every second counts)

How Bad Is Stroke?
According to a 2006 study in the USA, a patient with ischaemic stroke loses 19 lakh brain cells every minute, about 1,400 crore nerve connections are destroyed every minute and 12 km of nerve fibres are lost every minute. The end result is that the patient is paralysed for life and becomes dependent. That is scary indeed.

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Most smokers believe smoking is cool. No matter how you indulge in it, tobacco is harmful to your health. Tobacco contains over 7,000 toxins and 70 known carcinogens (chemicals that increase cancer risk) and can damage nearly every organ of the body. Dr Sachin Kumar, Senior Consultant – Pulmonology at Sakra World Hospital explains how smoking affects every part of your body. The next time you are tempted to take a drag, just pause for a minute and think of the consequences of your indulgence.

Treatment
The treatment depends on what type of stroke the patient has had.

Top Factor In Stroke Care
The most important part of stroke care is not the doctor or the hospital, but the patient. As most of the strokes are painless, patients tend to ignore their symptoms and delay treatment. If the patient and the family are aware of stroke symptoms, the patient can be taken to hospital on time and given treatment.

Mortality
Worldwide, stroke is the second leading cause of death. More than two-thirds of the patients with a large stroke don’t survive beyond the first year.

Take Care Of These To Prevent A Stroke
High blood pressure: The single-most important thing that anyone can do is to control his/her blood pressure. The easiest way to do this is through exercise and diet and, if needed, medications. High cholesterol: One easy way to manage cholesterol is to increase fruits and vegetables in the diet and avoid fried foods. Consuming healthy fats from nuts (almonds or walnuts), fish oils and oils like olive oil and flaxseed oil is also beneficial. The dietary reference intake (DRI) for fat in adults is 20-35% of total calories from fat. An average of 50 gm of fat per day is a safe zone.

Healthy sources of fat for Indian cooking are ghee, sunflower oil, groundnut oil and mustard oil. Include all these in your diet for best results. Beware that fats may be hidden. Read labels carefully before buying products. If diet doesn’t work, then medications can come to the rescue.

Cut Down On Salt, Drink Fluids: Simple Diet Tips To Avoid Chronic Heart Failure

Save Your Heart

Cardiac or heart failure is a clinical condition in which the heart loses the ability to eject blood to meet the requirements of the tissues of the body. Irrespective of the cause, nutritional concerns need to be addressed in this condition in order to prevent morbidity and mortality. Patients with chronic heart failure are at constant risk of losing weight due to the medical condition and also low dietary intake which is due poor appetite, depression or loss of appetite due to consumption of drugs.Dietary interventions to maintain and restore the nutritional balance are essential part of treatment therapy. These include a suitable change in calorie intake, reduction in sodium and fluid intake, maintenance of potassium and magnesium in the body, and appropriate supplementation with vitamins and minerals.Here are some simple tips by Dr Ritika Samaddar, Chief Nutritionist at Max Hospital, Saket.

High sugar: High sugar intake is not good for the body or the brain. It is important to realise that, and eliminate, or at least limit, the intake of sugary foods like cold drinks, juices, cookies, biscuits, chocolates and sweets.

Smoking: The smoke that travels through the lungs into the blood and then gets circulated throughout the body mixed with blood is known to make the blood sticky and cause strokes. So, stay away from smoking and keep your blood flowing smoothly.

Diet: My advice is simple: You can eat anything that comes from the ground (fruits, vegetables), is white (low fat milk, for example. But know that most refined foods are also white. You must make wise choices here) or sometimes pink (fresh fish or lean chicken). Stay away from anything that comes out of a box, plastic packet or a bottle.

Exercise: A good diet with regular physical exercise is the secret to good health. If you follow this routine you will not have to worry about the first three points. Doctor:The last piece of stroke prevention strategy is your doctor. Get professional advice always because “your brain is the Ferrari of your body, and you don’t take your Ferrari to a roadside mechanic”.

—The writer is the Head of Interventional Neurology at Max Super Speciality Hospital, New Delhi

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