Stroke or “brain attack” occurs when blood circulation to part of your brain is interrupted or reduced. This prevents oxygen and nutrients from reaching brain tissue, resulting in the death of brain cells (neurons). A stroke is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment, which is crucial to reduce brain damage and other complications.
Stroke has two main causes: a blocked artery (ischemic stroke) or leaking or bursting of a blood vessel (hemorrhagic stroke). In some cases, a person may only develop a temporary disruption of blood flow to the brain. This is known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA), which does not cause lasting symptoms but is dangerous nevertheless. Stroke is one of the leading causes of death among Filipinos, according to the Department of Health (DOH).
The good news is that you can take simple steps to lower your risk of suffering a stroke:
- Control high blood pressure. Hypertension is a major risk factor for stroke.
- If you smoke, quit. Avoid secondhand cigarette smoke.
- Control diabetes with a healthy diet, regular exercise, and medications.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Aside from increasing your risk for stroke, being overweight also contributes to high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Losing as little as 10 pounds may lower your blood pressure and improve your cholesterol levels.
- Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
- Exercise for at least 30 minutes most days of the week.
- Drink alcohol in moderation; if possible, practice total abstinence from alcohol.
Talk to your doctor for more information on how to adopt a healthy lifestyle and which maintenance medications are recommended to lower your stroke risk.
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