World Stroke Day: 5 everyday habits that could increase risk of stroke

Updated on Oct 29, 2021 11:46 AM IST

World Stroke Day: Our lifestyle choices and habits may impact our risk of stroke. While healthy habits can reduce it significantly, unhealthy ones can make us more prone.

World Stroke Day 2021(Shutterstock)
World Stroke Day 2021(Shutterstock)
ByParmita Uniyal

World Stroke Day 2021: One in four people are at risk of stroke in their lifetime. It is the second leading cause of death and the third leading cause of disability, according to WHO. When the blood supply to a certain part of the brain is interrupted or reduced, a stroke occurs. It prevents brain tissue from receiving vital nutrients and oxygen causing the cells to die. It is important to act fast when somebody is having a stroke as every second is crucial.

World Stroke Day (October 29, 2001), celebrated annually focusses on spreading awareness of stroke symptoms with a campaign that aims to highlight what can be saved if we all know the signs of stroke and call for an ambulance immediately.

As per the Indian Stroke Association, 17 million people suffer a stroke each year of which six million die and five million remain permanently disabled.

ALSO READ: World Stroke Day: Foods you should avoid to prevent stroke

"Several factors can increase a person’s chance of stroke including being overweight or obese, physically inactivity, heavy drinking, use of drugs, cigarette smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obstructive sleep apnoea, cardiovascular diseases such as abnormal heart rhythm, heart failure and family history of stroke. Other factors like age, race, gender, and hormones also become causes of stroke at times," Dr P K Hazra, Senior Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, AMRI, Kolkata.

Our lifestyle choices and habits may impact our risk of stroke. While healthy habits can reduce it significantly, unhealthy ones can make us more prone.

Here are everyday lifestyle habits that could put you at risk of stroke.

High-salt diet

People who consume high-salt diet or diets rich in saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol are at high risk of stroke and heart disease. "Eating a lot of packaged and canned stuff can also increase stroke risk due to high salt and nitrate preservatives. A high salt diet elevates blood pressure and is a prominent risk factor. Managing the diet can reduce stroke risk by 30 per cent," says Dr. Praveen Gupta, Principal Director & Head, Department of Neurology, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram.

Inactive lifestyle

Couch potatoes or those who do not regularly exercise may be at increased risk of stroke. "A sedentary lifestyle and obesity are prominent stroke risk factors. As they cause an increase in other health conditions including obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes which further increase the risk of stroke. Regular physical activity can lower your chances of stroke. A simple exercise like walking for 150 minutes a week can reduce stroke risk substantially," says Dr Gupta.

Drinking alcohol

If you feel you go overboard with alcohol, now is the time to limit your intake, if you want to ward off risk of stroke. Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure levels and the risk for stroke. It also increases levels of triglycerides, a form of fat in your blood that can harden your arteries, as per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "By making the arterial wall weak excessive alcohol use also increases the risk of hemorrhagic stroke," says Dr Gupta.

Smoking and tobacco use

Smoking and tobacco use are the main lifestyle risk factor for stroke. Cigarette smoking can damage the heart and blood vessels, increasing your risk for stroke. 

"The nicotine in cigarettes raises blood pressure, and the carbon monoxide from cigarette smoke reduces the amount of oxygen that your blood can carry. Even if you don’t smoke, breathing in other people’s secondhand smoke can make you more likely to have a stroke. After cessation of smoking in 5 years your risk may come down close to normal population," according to CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Insomnia or lack of sleep

Lack of proper sleep is coming across as a major risk factor for stroke. Lack of sleep causes an increase in sympathetic hormones like catecholamines that elevate blood pressure and sugar leading to increased oxidative stress and vessel wall injury. A restful sleep restores good health.

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