Health – keeping healthy

Common Ailments found in Mens health

Preventing Strokes

The Stroke Association is the only national charity solely concerned with combating stroke in people of all ages. It funds research into prevention, treatment and better methods of rehabilitation and helps stroke patients and their families directly through its community services and national helpline. These include help with communication difficulties after stroke: dysphasia support; family support, information services, welfare grants, publications and leaflets.

They campaign, educate and inform to increase knowledge of stroke at all levels of society and we act as a voice for everyone affected by stroke. The Stroke Association has nearly 3,000 volunteers working throughout England and Wales. Emma Guise is a Media Officer from The Stroke Association.

Stroke – obesity and other risk factors
Imagine one day walking to your car and collapsing, suddenly and without any warning. You wake up in hospital unable to walk, talk, or read; you can’t even remember your own name. Your world has literally changed in a stroke.

A stroke does not discriminate and can happen to anyone, at any age and at any time. It occurs when the blood supply to the brain is disrupted. The brain cells are deprived of oxygen and other nutrients, causing some cells to become damaged and others to die. About a third of people who have a stroke are likely to die within the first ten days; about a third are likely to make a recovery within a month and about a third are left with long-term disabilities.

But evidence suggests this need not be the case. 40% of all strokes could be prevented by regular blood pressure checks, treatment for hypertension (high blood pressure) and most importantly, taking steps to improve overall health. There are many risk factors for stroke but possibly the most concerning at the moment is obesity.

A 2012 report from the Department of Health claims that if the number of obese children in the UK continues to rise, children will have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. This is because obesity increases the risk of the biggest killer diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and stroke.
On a basic level, people become obese when their calorie intake is higher than their calorie expenditure.

The excess fat cells in the body can cause furring in the arteries, which can then lead to the formation of blood clots. As mentioned earlier, it is this disruption to the blood supply, which eventually leads to stroke.

Overweight or obese people are also more likely to have high blood cholesterol levels and high blood pressure than people of a normal healthy weight. Both high blood pressure and high cholesterol are important risk factors for stroke, as is diabetes. All these factors mean obesity is a real health concern, particularly in relation to stroke.

The issue of obesity is currently a high priority for The Stroke Association. We are currently calling on the government to introduce mandatory, consistent and clear labelling of food products, including levels of fat, sugar and salt.

Health and Efficiency are also campaigning for restrictions on ‘junk food’ advertising, especially when aimed at children. However, until government addresses these issues it is crucial that people take responsibility for their health and make the necessary lifestyle changes to combat obesity.

In the past few years a great deal of research has been carried out into the links between diet and health. Studies are now looking into more specific links between stroke and diet. A healthy diet is thought to reduce the risk of a number of diseases, including stroke. Studies have shown that the best way to stay fit and healthy is to eat a diet high in fruit, vegetables and plant-based foods, but low in fat and salt.

Too much salt (sodium) in your diet can lead to high blood pressure, the biggest single risk factor for stroke. The government recommends that we should consume no more than an average of six grams of salt a day. As a guide, one teaspoon contains five grams of salt.

Sodium levels in the body are kept balanced by the mineral potassium, which is found in fresh fruit and vegetables. This is a good reason to increase your intake of these foods.

When most people think of salt, they think of shaking it on their food, or adding a pinch to cooking. And it’s important to try to get out of the habit of using salt in this way. But you also need to be careful about the salt you can’t see.

Three-quarters (75%) of the salt we eat comes from processed food, such as breakfast cereals, soups, sauces, ready meals and biscuits. Almost everyone eats some processed foods. Even people who make all their own meals from scratch will usually buy foods such as bread and biscuits and these can be high in salt. This is why The Stroke Association believes it is so important for the Government to introduce better food labelling and why we want to encourage people to check labels of the produce they purchase.

The other problem with processed foods is that they are more likely to be high in fatty and sugary elements, such as crisps and sweets, which again can lead to increased levels of obesity.