Loreen Dawson, ND
A stroke is a brain attack
A stroke is a brain attack. It's the third leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer. It occurs when part of the brain is deprived of oxygen and nutrients because of an interruption in blood flow. The result is death of brain cells. Stroke more commonly affects people over age 55, but can occur at any age.
There are two primary types of strokes. An ischemic stroke occurs when the flow of blood to the brain is blocked, by, for example, a piece of atherosclerotic plaque, a blood clot or a spasm in an artery. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel bursts, causing blood loss and swelling. Both can result in a sudden loss of neurological function that may increase over 24 to 48 hours.
The symptoms of stroke, the amount of damage and degree of recovery are dependent on the location and extent of brain cell death. Signs and symptoms may include: weakness, clumsiness or paralysis of limbs, usually one sided; difficulty speaking, understanding, remembering, writing or thinking clearly; inability to carry out normal daily tasks; loss of hearing or vision; personality changes; difficulty swallowing and, in severe cases, the inability to breathe on one's own. Twenty to 25 percent of people who experience a stroke will die from it. About 40 percent will recover well enough to manage daily tasks.
The risk factors for stroke are similar to those for heart disease and cancer. These include: age, high blood pressure, smoking, heart disease, diabetes, alcohol abuse, obesity and family history of stroke.
The best way to prevent a stroke is to reduce the risk factors. You can't alter your age or family history, but you can change everything else with a comprehensive plan.
If you smoke, quit. Use whatever means you need to nicotine patch, gum, hypnosis, vitamins, herbs, acupuncture or sheer will but quit today! It's the biggest gift you can give yourself. Smoking increases your risk of all forms of cardiovascular disease.
Eat a healthy diet, high in fibre, including whole grains and organically grown fruits and vegetables. This will help you lose weight, lower blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides. If you are diabetic, keep your blood sugar low. Oat bran and apples are particularly good for lowering cholesterol. Garlic is extremely beneficial for the heart and should be used regularly. Regular consumption of fish will greatly reduce the risk of heart disease. Avoid meat and pasteurized dairy products.
Pasteurized, homogenized dairy products (especially low-fat) increase homocysteine levels which contribute to atherosclerosis, and are a good indicator of risk of heart disease and stroke. Eat flax oil daily about two tablespoons.
Margarine absolutely must be avoided. (Yes even the ones that say they are "non-hydrogenated just how did they make it solid at room temperature?) Margarine contains trans-fatty acids that are well known to damage arteries, causing plaque build up. Beneficial fats include olive oil, flax seed oil, fish oil and butter.
Eliminate all junk food and fast food they have no redeeming qualities. They are low in nutrients and fibre, high in refined salt, sugar and bad fat and take the place of healthy foods that would benefit you. Eliminate coffee, which increases cholesterol, blood pressure and homocysteine levels.
Eliminating refined salt helps most, but not all people, to reduce blood pressure. [Publisher] Remember that table salt is sodium chloride, which is a poison.
Reduce sugar, sweets and alcohol. Refined sugar is a chemical and has no place in a healthy diet. These increase your blood sugar, cholesterol, weight, and risk of heart disease.
Exercise, exercise, exercise. This can not be over emphasized your body was designed to move, so move it. Daily aerobic exercise will decrease blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, help you lose weight, reduce tension and stress, lift depression and increase oxygen flow to the brain and heart.
Brisk walking is a good basic exercise, suitable for most people. Generally healthy people should start with 20 minutes and increase time and intensity, until they can walk briskly for 45 minutes a day. Walking in hilly areas is particularly beneficial. There are many other excellent forms of exercise. Pick one you enjoy and just do it.
For those who cannot do vigorous exercise, do what you can manage. Stretching, qi gong, swimming, using an exercise bicycle or rowing machine anything that moves the body is helpful. If you have an injury, handicap or other impediment to movement, consult a physiotherapist for exercises suitable to your body.
Stress reduction techniques are extremely important for lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. These may include physical exercise, meditation, prayer, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, counselling, art therapy and music. Choose those that appeal to you.
Stroke, like cancer and heart disease, is preventable. A comprehensive health plan can greatly reduce your risk.