Stroke Awareness

Thursday, 26 August 2021

When someone is living with diabetes they are up to four times more likely to have a heart attack or a stroke. Often managing blood glucose levels can be a person’s primary health focus but it is important to remember that having diabetes may also increase the chance of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD). Diabetes can affect the walls of the blood vessels and make them more susceptible to damage. A build-up of fatty plaque in these areas of damage causes the blood vessels to narrow or to clog up completely.

What is a stroke?

A stroke is when blood can’t get to all parts of the brain. The brain is fed by blood carrying oxygen and nutrients through blood vessels, but if there is a block or a burst artery, a stroke can happen.

Types of stroke

There are two types of stroke.

An ischaemic stroke, pronounced ‘is-key-mick’ is when the arteries get blocked. This stops the blood getting through.

An haemorrhagic stroke, pronounced ‘hem-or-ragic’ is when the arteries break. Instead of going through the artery, blood leaks into the brain.

How can you promote stroke awareness?

The Stroke Foundation recommends the F.A.S.T test as an easy way to remember the most common signs of stroke.

Face: Check their face. Has their mouth dropped?

Arms: Can they lift both arms?

Speech: Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?

Time: If you see any of these signs call 000 straight away.

While arm weakness, facial weakness and difficulty with speech are the most common symptoms or signs of stroke, they are not the only signs.

Other signs of stroke can also occur alone or in combination:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Dizziness, loss of balance or an unexplained fall
  • Loss of vision, sudden blurring or decreased vision in one or both eyes
  • Headache, usually severe and abrupt in onset
  • Weakness or numbness or paralysis of the face, arm or leg on either side of the body.

Click on the link for a pictorial explanation of other signs: stroke signs.

Never ignore the signs of stroke. Always call triple zero (000) if you, or a family member or a patient has any of the signs.

Transient ischaemic attack

Sometimes the signs disappear within a short time, such as a few minutes. This may be a transient ischaemic attack (TIA), which occurs when the blood supply to your brain is blocked temporarily. After a TIA, your risk of a stroke is higher.

What can you do to prevent a stroke?

In Australia one person suffers a stroke every 10 minutes. According to the Stroke Foundation, high blood pressure is the most important known risk factor when it comes to stroke. To help lower the risk of high blood pressure and stroke these three simple food swaps can be a good place to start:

  1. Swap highly processed foods for fresh or less processed

Highly processed and packaged foods can be high in salt (sodium). Sodium is often added as a preservative to foods to keep the food safe from bugs and/or improve taste.

Fruits, vegetables, legumes, fresh meats, poultry, milk and yoghurt are naturally low in sodium, and rich in many health-supportive nutrients such as fibre, protein and calcium, so encourage fresh and or less processed foods.

  1. Swap higher numbers for lower numbers on food labels

Look for products that say ‘low in salt’, ‘reduced salt’ or ‘no added salt’ and or for products that are lower than or equal to 400milligram (mg) sodium per 100gram (g).

  1. Swap salt for spices

Instead of using salt or high salt ingredients such as sauces (e.g. tomato sauce) try to encourage low salt sauces or even better replace sauces with low sodium flavour enhancers like herbs, spices, lemon juice, lime juice, vinegar and/or garlic.

 

Other things to help reduce the risk of stroke

  • Daily and or regular enjoyable physical activity
  • Regular healthcare services contact and checks, to ensure blood glucose, cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure levels are in their target ranges
  • Good mental health support and management strategies if needed
  • Reducing or quitting alcohol and cigarette intake respectively

 

By Robbie Tyson, CDE

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