Stroke - The facts

A stroke is a medical emergency. The longer a stroke remains untreated, the greater the chance of stroke-related damage. A stroke occurs when the supply of blood to the brain is suddenly disrupted. Blood is carried to the brain by blood vessels called arteries. Blood may stop moving through an artery because the artery is blocked by a blood clot or plaque, or because the artery breaks or bursts.

Effects of stroke - The brain controls the way we move, think, speak, and eat. Everything we do is controlled by different parts of the brain. When a stroke happens, we lose the ability to do things that part of the brain controls. We may not be able to move one side of the body or have trouble thinking or speaking.

Signs of a stroke

The FAST test is an easy way to remember the most common signs of stroke:

  • FACE - Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?
  • ARMS - Can they lift both arms?
  • SPEECH - Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
  • TIME - Time is critical. If you see any of these signs, call 000 immediately!

How can you reduce your risk? It's important to know what your risk factors are. Below we discuss 3 lifestyle risk factors that you can change.

1. Obesity

Everyone can reduce their risk of having a stroke by making a few simple

lifestyle changes to achieve a healthy weight. Below are some healthy weight loss tips. Remember - Healthy weight loss takes time - so give yourself time.

  • Changes need to be for the long term - make changes to your eating patterns and physical activity levels that you can live with for the rest of your life. 
  • Take small steps - don’t try and do everything at once. 
  • Don’t be put off by slow progress. You may lose weight one week, then go for a few weeks without losing any. 
  • Losing weight the healthy way is not about short-term diets or running marathons - healthy eating and regular physical activity are what count. Reducing the amount of time you spend sitting will also help. 
  • Forget the scales - measure your achievements in other ways rather than by how much you weigh. For example, whether your clothes are looser, whether you’ve cut down on the amount of TV you watch or whether you can do things without getting tired. 
  • Forget fad/crash diets - they may give results in the short term, but they generally don’t help you keep weight off in the longer term. Some may even be harmful to your health. 
  • Seek advice and guidance - speak with your doctor, Accredited Practising Dietitian or a physical activity health professional about your weight.

2. Diabetes

A person with diabetes is twice as likely to have a stroke as someone of the same gender and age, who doesn't have diabetes. You can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 60% by making healthy food choices, being more active and maintaining a healthy weight.

Watch what you eat.

  • Limit saturated fat and moderate total fat intake 
  • Choose foods low in salt 
  • Limit your alcohol intake if you choose to drink 
  • Consume moderate amounts of sugars and foods containing added sugars

Watch your waist line.

Being a healthy weight will reduce your risk of chronic health conditions and help you to feel more energetic. 

Get up and moving. 

Being active will not only reduce your risk of diabetes, but it will also help prevent a range of health conditions. Use these tips to help you get started:

  • Think of movement as an opportunity, not an inconvenience 
  • Be active every day in as many ways as you can
  • Put together at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most (preferably all) days

3. High cholesterol

Plaque build-up can keep your brain from getting enough blood and oxygen. If a clot completely blocks an artery feeding your brain, you have a stroke.

 There are two forms of cholesterol: ‘LDL’ and ‘HDL’.

LDL (Low Density Lipids) is referred to as ‘bad’ cholesterol because it can cause blockages in your arteries. HDL (High Density Lipids) is referred to as ‘good’ cholesterol because it helps to lower LDL cholesterol levels in the blood.

Tips for reducing your cholesterol levels.

  • Eat fish at least twice each week
  • Replace butter or margarine with spreads such as hummus or avocado 
  • Choose reduced fat dairy products over full fat ones 
  • Trim the fat off meat 
  • Make vegetables and wholegrains the major part of all your meals 
  • Snack on fresh fruits and unsalted nuts 
  • Be active most days of the week

Have you had your cholesterol checked lately?

The risk with high cholesterol is that there are usually no signs or symptoms to look out for - so it is vitally important to go to your GP to have them checked. Once you are over 45 years you should have your cholesterol checked on a 1-2 years basis. If you are under this age having your cholesterol checked every 3-5 years is sufficient unless you have a history of high cholesterol. 

Stroke is Australia’s second biggest killer after heart disease.  Help raise awareness about how your colleagues can reduce their risk by printing off our free poster. Stick it up in a high-traffic area for maximum impact!

If you're looking for more workplace health assistance or solutions, contact us today.