New Delhi: According to the Indian Stroke Association, the incidence of strokes in India has surged by 100 per cent over recent decades. In fact, stroke now ranks as the second leading cause of death in the country. Approximately 1,85,000 strokes occur annually in India, equating to nearly one stroke every 40 seconds and one stroke-related fatality every four minutes.
While conventional medicine has made commendable strides in stroke prevention and rehabilitation, a holistic, integrated approach leveraging natural methods holds the potential to alleviate the burden of strokes in India. Implementing modest adjustments in lifestyle and adopting healthy habits can be instrumental in averting the onset of strokes.
Understanding Stroke and Its Variants
A stroke occurs when a blood vessel responsible for supplying oxygen and blood to the brain is either blocked or interrupted, leading to a deficiency in blood and oxygen, which can cause brain cells to perish.
There are two primary types of strokes:
Ischemic stroke: This type arises when a blood clot forms or shifts into a blood vessel, obstructing the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. Almost 80 per cent of strokes belong to this category.
Hemorrhagic stroke: This type occurs when a blood vessel in or near the brain ruptures or bursts.
Individuals may also encounter the term "transient ischemic attack (TIA)," often colloquially referred to as a "mini stroke." This condition arises from a temporary disruption of blood flow to a specific section of the brain. While symptoms of a TIA usually subside within 24 hours, it is imperative for individuals to promptly seek medical attention.
Here are some of the natural ways to mitigate the risk of stroke:
Strive for a Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial in mitigating the risk of stroke. Both being overweight and obesity stand as primary risk factors for strokes, and they are closely associated with other conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes, further heightening the risk.
Studies reveal that an individual who is overweight faces a 22 per cent higher risk of stroke compared to someone at a normal weight. For those with obesity, the risk escalates to 64 per cent higher. To manage weight effectively, it's essential to engage in regular exercise and monitor calorie intake. Adopting these healthy practices can significantly contribute to reducing the risk of stroke and promoting overall well-being.
Prioritise Regular Exercise
Regular exercise plays a pivotal role in positively influencing key risk factors associated with stroke. It effectively contributes to the reduction of both blood pressure and blood sugar levels, in addition to aiding in weight management or achieving a healthy weight.
Beyond its impact on other health aspects, exercise stands alone as a powerful and independent habit capable of lowering stroke risk. Remarkably, individuals who engage in consistent physical activity demonstrate a decreased likelihood of experiencing a stroke. Furthermore, in the unfortunate event of a stroke occurrence, active individuals tend to have a higher survival rate compared to those leading a sedentary lifestyle.
For individuals looking to embark on a journey towards stroke prevention, incorporating yoga into their routine can prove to be a transformative addition. This ancient practice offers benefits beyond enhancing flexibility and balance; it also promotes relaxation and aids in stress reduction. By emphasising mindful breathing and gentle movements, yoga plays a crucial role in regulating blood pressure and improving blood flow-fundamental factors in reducing the risk of stroke.
Keep a Watch on the Diet
» Adopting a nutritious diet not only aids in weight management but also exerts a positive influence on other factors relevant to stroke risk. For instance:
» Moderating sodium intake holds potential for reducing blood pressure levels.
» Incorporating healthy fats from sources such as linseeds, walnuts, soya beans, and heart-healthy oils may contribute to improved cholesterol profiles.
» Restricting sugar consumption can facilitate better control over blood sugar levels.
It's important to note that calorie counting need not be the primary focus. Instead, individuals should prioritise the consumption of nutrient-rich foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, fish, and poultry. Conversely, it is advisable to limit or avoid the intake of simple sugars, red meat, and processed foods for optimal stroke prevention and overall well-being.
Get Good Sleep
Emerging research underscores the significant correlation between subpar sleep quality and heightened stroke risk. While insufficient sleep is known to contribute to concerns such as fatigue, impaired memory, anxiety, and depression, it also carries implications for stroke susceptibility.
Various sleep-related disorders, including insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness, and sleep apnea, have been identified as factors linked to an increased risk of stroke. Furthermore, experiencing a stroke can exacerbate existing sleep issues, subsequently elevating the likelihood of recurrent strokes. Recognising the importance of quality sleep is paramount in mitigating the risk of stroke and ensuring overall well-being.
The nicotine present in cigarette smoke has a detrimental effect on blood, increasing its propensity to clot. Smoking not only contributes to the formation of aneurysms but is also strongly associated with lung disease, heart disease, and various forms of cancer. In terms of stroke risk, smoking doubles the likelihood of an ischemic attack and quadruples the risk of a hemorrhagic stroke. Additionally, it induces the development of atherosclerosis, characterised by fatty deposits in the carotid artery, a critical blood vessel leading to the brain. Steering clear of smoking is a crucial step towards reducing the risk of stroke and safeguarding overall health.
Steer Clear of Physical and Mental Stress
Exposing oneself to stressful circumstances can heighten the risk of a stroke. Factors such as insufficient rest, extended working hours, sustained emotional strain, or engaging in physically demanding activities all contribute to heightened stress levels. This, in turn, triggers the release of hormones that elevate blood pressure and escalate the likelihood of blood clot formation. Effectively managing and reducing stress through practices like meditation is essential in mitigating feelings of anger, resentment, hatred, or suppressed animosity-all of which can further contribute to the risk of stroke.
Diabetes stands as a significant risk factor for stroke. Elevated blood sugar levels can lead to damage in the blood vessels, increasing the likelihood of clot formation. Effectively controlling diabetes is crucial in preventing strokes. This involves adhering to the guidance of a nutritionist, regularly monitoring blood sugar levels, and incorporating lifestyle modifications like exercise and a balanced diet into one's routine. By taking these proactive steps, individuals can greatly reduce their risk of experiencing a stroke.
Crafting a stroke prevention plan requires a personalised approach, recognising that there is no universal solution. By combining these customised strategies to address their specific risk factors, individuals can achieve the most substantial and enduring benefits for their overall health and well-being.