Stroke could cause 10 million deaths by 2050; what causes stroke and lifestyle habits to reduce risk
Stroke cases are increasing even in young people. Know risk factors and lifestyle habits that can help you prevent stroke.
Stroke deaths may rise exponentially in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) by the year 2050 from 86 per cent to 91 per cent, said studies by World Stroke Organization and the Lancet Neurology Commission. The report states that stroke deaths are expected to surge from 6.6 million in 2020 to a daunting 9.7 million by 2050. Stroke occurs when blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted or reduced and the brain tissue doesn't get blood and oxygen. Trouble in walking, speaking and understanding as well as paralysis or numbness of the face, arm or leg are symptoms of stroke. Stroke is treatable if detected early and can be prevented with certain lifestyle measures.
"Stroke is the leading cause of disability and death worldwide. Stroke leads to sudden loss of ability to speak, move limbs, vision problems and loss of consciousness. There are almost 1.25 crore new cases of stroke and more than 10 crore people are living with stroke at any point of time in the world. The number of new stroke patients have increased by almost 70 per cent from 1990s to 2020. The stroke numbers have increased by around 20 per cent in people less than age 70 years. Stroke is a disease which occurs commonly with advancing age but stroke can be seen in any age group," says Dr Kapil Singhal, Director – Neurology, Fortis Hospital Noida in an interview with HT Digital.
Risk factors for stroke
Most of the brain strokes are associated with risk factors as detailed below and many of them can be prevented.
The major reasons for stroke according to Dr Singhal are:
1. High blood pressure: High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke both due to clotting (ischemic) or bleeding (haemorrhagic) in the brain. Blood pressure effects vessels of brain and heart which can cause clotting or obstruction in brain.
2. Heart disease including irregular heart rhythm: Irregular heart rate can lead to clot formation in heart which can move to brain and lead to obstruction of blood vessels.
3. High body mass index or obesity: One of the leading causes of stroke is lack of physical activity. A regular exercise regime with at least 30 minutes of physical activity for 4-5 days a week is essential to cut down the stroke risk.
4. High fasting sugars or diabetes: Diabetes if not controlled puts you at high risk of brain attack and associated complications.
5. Smoking: Smoking both active and passive is harmful and can increase stroke risk.
6. Ambient particulate matter pollution: We all are living in a polluted world, ambient pollution in our houses is also harmful and can cause stroke.
Lifestyle habits to prevent stroke
"Diet plays a very important role in our health. What we eat, reflects in our body. A diet rich in red meat is very harmful. Whereas diet rich in green vegetables and fruits is associated with reduced risk of stroke. A simple formula of one major meal consisting of fruits and vegetables can go a long way in increasing our longevity," says Dr Singhal.
Here's what you can do to prevent stroke risk
1. Low salt diet: Such eating habit can help in reducing blood pressure and boosting our kidneys health. Fast foods, processed foods, namkeens, achaars are all rich in salts which are harmful for body and have to be avoided.
2. Lose weight: Low levels of exercise, sedentary lifestyle and excessive weight can have a direct association with stroke. Shedding weight can help in reducing stroke risk.
3. Say no to smoking: Cigarette smoking is a major risk factor for stroke. Quitting can lower risk of stroke.
4. Alcohol intake: Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure which increases risk of stroke.
5. Control diabetes and cholesterol levels: If you have diabetes or a heart condition, you should manage these conditions well to reduce risk of stroke.
Stroke is a disease which takes a toll on patient and their families. Most of us are in jobs where physical activity is not required, have long sitting hours, our food includes a lot of processed items, and increasing pollution, we are facing a stroke pandemic, it’s time to act, small modifications in our lifestyle can go a long way in savings us from stroke.