Stroke risk: The common health factor which makes it ‘harder for blood to flow’

Samantha Markle gives an update on her father after stroke

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The Stroke Association says reducing your cholesterol level can reduce your risk of stroke. It explains: “Having too much cholesterol in your blood can cause fatty deposits to build up in your arteries. This can make the arteries narrowed and stiff, making it harder for blood to flow. It also increases the chance of a blood clot developing.”

The Mayo Clinic says with high cholesterol, you can develop fatty deposits in your blood vessels.

“Eventually, these deposits grow, making it difficult for enough blood to flow through your arteries.

“Sometimes, those deposits can break suddenly and form a clot that causes a heart attack or stroke,” it says.

It says it is not possible to completely prevent strokes because some things that increase your risk of the condition cannot be changed. Nonetheless, some dietary changes may be able to help.

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The NHS explains: “The best way to help prevent a stroke is to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and avoid smoking and drinking too much alcohol.”

The NHS says a low-fat, high-fibre diet is usually recommended to help prevent strokes, including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (5 A Day) and wholegrains.

Its website reads: “Ensuring a balance in your diet is important. Do not eat too much of any single food, particularly foods high in salt and processed foods.

“You should limit the amount of salt you eat to no more than 6g (0.2oz) a day as too much salt will increase your blood pressure: 6g of salt is about one teaspoonful.”

It says that regular exercise can also help lower your cholesterol and keep your blood pressure healthy.

Moreover, the health body explains that excessive alcohol consumption can lead to high blood pressure and trigger an irregular heartbeat.

The Stroke Association says: “Regularly drinking too much alcohol raises your risk of a stroke.

“Alcohol contributes to a number of conditions that can increase your risk of stroke, so it’s important that you don’t drink more than the recommended limit on a regular basis.”

You might need medicine to lower your cholesterol if your cholesterol level has not gone down after changing your diet and lifestyle.

If you’re aged 40 to 74, you can get your cholesterol checked as part of an NHS Health Check.

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) recommends all adults have a cholesterol check at any age, even if they feel completely well. It should be repeated every five years – or more often if the test was abnormal.

The cholesterol blood test measures your levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and your total cholesterol to HDL ratio.

The NHS says if you suspect you or someone else is having a stroke, phone 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance.

It notes: “Even if the symptoms disappear while you’re waiting for the ambulance, it’s still important to go to hospital for an assessment.”

It says the main stroke symptoms can be remembered with the word FAST:

  • Face – the face may have dropped on 1 side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have drooped.
  • Arms – the person may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of weakness or numbness in 1 arm.
  • Speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake; they may also have problems understanding what you’re saying to them.
  • Time – it’s time to dial 999 immediately if you notice any of these signs or symptoms.

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