Stroke: you can reduce
its risks and outcome
of neurological disability in Canada,reports the Calgary Stroke Program.
Here in Alberta, we’ve seenexceptional progress in recent years.For example, the number of people whodied in hospital from stroke between2004 and 2008 decreased by 27 per cent.Stroke centres and stroke preventionclinics across the province provideAlbertans with 24-hour access to stroketreatment, specialist consultation andclot-busting drugs.
The result is some 30,000 people inAlberta have survived a stroke. Manyowe their lives to quick treatment andtPA, a clot-busting drug that works bestwhen given to patients within aboutthree hours of their stroke. With earlyintervention and rehabilitation, manystroke survivors return to normal life intheir own homes.
Just as stroke can be treated, it can
About 2,500 years ago,Hippocrates, known as the father ofWestern medicine, described apoplexy,or stroke, as sudden paralysis of thebody. In ancient times, people believedstrokes were the result of being struckdown by the wrath of gods.
It is an apt description as stroke cancause sudden death, paralysis, loss ofspeech and cognitive ability.
In the 17th century, Dr. Johann JakobWepfer, a Swiss pathologist, was thefirst physician to hypothesize thatstroke was caused by bleeding in thebrain (a haemorrhagic stroke) or ablocked artery in the brain (an ischemicstroke).
In the four centuries since,
considerable knowledge has been
gained in diagnosing and treating
strokes. Even so, stroke is the fourth
biggest killer and the leading cause
also be prevented. You can reduce
the risk of stroke by taking personal
responsibility such as:
• Getting checked for high blood
pressure, diabetes and keeping your
weight under control
• Eating healthy foods including fish,
high-fibre grains and breads, fruits
and vegetables. Avoiding fatty foods,
especially those with trans-fats
• Being a non-smoker or quitting
smoking and avoiding second-hand
smoke. Smoking can almost triple
your risk of stroke. Smokers are also
at risk of stroke about 10 years earlier
• Reducing excessive alcohol
consumption. Excessive alcohol is
related to haemorrhagic stroke
• Not using street drugs such as
cocaine and amphetamines.
Amphetamine users are five times
more prone to stroke than non-users;
cocaine almost doubles the risk of
• Doing regular physical activity, such
as walking or other exercises advised
by your health-care provider
• Following the advice of your doctor
and keeping your blood pressure,
diabetes, heart irregularities,
cholesterol (particularly LDL, the
“bad” cholesterol) and weight under
control. Controlling blood pressure
alone may reduce risk of stroke by 30
to 40 per cent
• Regularly taking medicines
prescribed by your doctor
• Being optimistic.
Finally, if you do experience the signsof stroke (see next page), don’t delaygetting medical attention. Time is ofthe essence, and early treatment willhelp eliminate or reduce the severity ofstroke, resulting in a better outcome.
It is your choice whether you act onthis advice or not. Choose well.
— Kamalesh GangopadhyayKamalesh Gangopadhyay is a retired doctor.
Knowing how to prevent and detect stroke can help you avoid
its potentially devastating effects