According to the World Heart Federation, 15 million people worldwide have strokes every year. Of those, 6 million die and 5 million are permanently disabled.
Also, the Singapore Ministry of Health conducted a study in 2011 showing that stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in Singapore, making up nine percent of all deaths in the country, higher than diabetes. Overall, stroke was more common among males than females.
It is very important for you, and for the health of your friends and family, to understand what the most common causes of stroke are and what can be done to help prevent it from happening to you. Running is one of the best ways to stay healthy and to reduce the risk of suffering a stroke.
What is a Stroke? Are There Different Types?
A stroke happens when there is a restriction of blood flow to the brain. Brain cells need blood, and if they are without blood for too long, there is a risk of permanent brain damage. There are several different types of stroke.
The most common type of stroke is called an ischemic stroke. It happens when a blood vessel gets blocked, often because of a blood clot that has traveled to the area from another part of the body.
Another type is a hemorrhagic stroke. This happens when a blood vessel in the brain bursts and bleeds. High blood pressure and an overuse of blood thinners are prime causes of this type of stroke.
The last main type of stroke is a transient ischemic attack, also known as a “mini stroke,” which doesn’t cause permanent brain damage, but symptoms can last for hours and are very scary for the victim.
Symptoms of a Stroke
Slurred speech is a common symptom of a stroke victim, along with dizziness, blurred vision, extreme headache and general confusion. If a person exhibits these symptoms, ask them to repeat a simple sentence. If they are unable to do so, get medical help immediately. Do your best to calm and reassure the person until help arrives.
Also, if one side of a person’s face or one of their arms is drooping, numb or sagging, ask the person to smile and to raise their arms above their head. If their smile is uneven, or if they are unable to raise their arms, call 995 or 911 (check your local emergency helpline number) immediately. Once again, be sure to calm and reassure the victim.
Causes of Stroke
Several factors can contribute to the possibility of having a stroke. It is important for you to recognize these risk factors and to avoid them whenever possible.
Heavy alcohol consumption, regular smoking and the use of illicit drugs all increase the risk of stroke. Quitting these bad habits, or at the very least cutting back on them, can greatly improve your health.
A poor diet, including eating foods with excessive amounts of cholesterol, saturated fats and sugar, can lead to weight gain and diabetes, and put you in danger of having a stroke. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains and lean meats, keeps your body healthy.
Lastly, another very important way to reduce the risk of stroke is to manage stress. Too much stress can lead to high blood pressure, a common cause of stroke. Stress comes in many forms and is often based on the individual.
It is important to recognize what causes stress in your life, and to find ways to limit it. One of the best ways to limit stress is to begin a regular running routine.
Reduce the Risk of Stroke By Running
An article published in the journal Stroke details a study linking running with a reduced risk of stroke. This isn’t all that surprising as running is commonly recommended by health professionals as an effective way to lower high blood pressure and to reduce stress, both key risk factors for stroke.
If you decide to take up running for the first time, or if you are using running as a way to recover from stroke, make sure to start slowly and to work your way towards increased fitness. Running should be enjoyable, and instead of causing stress, should help to lower it.
Running is an inexpensive and satisfying activity that comes with the added benefit of reducing your chances of having a stroke.
Together with a healthy balanced diet and with all the known benefits of running, what better time than right now to lace up your sneakers and get out for a stroke-destroying run?