On the 31st of March, National Stroke Day will be celebrated here in Madeira. Taking advantage of such an important day, the Regional Directorate of Health (DRS) is offering recommendations to the Madeiran population about adopting healthier lifestyles.
According to the DRS, around 800 stroke cases are registered in Madeira per year, and cause the highest incidences of disability and mortality in the region.
Strokes cause damage not only at the time they occur, and with changes in strength, sensitivity, and ability to speak, a third of all stroke victims can suffer progressive neurological and cognitive damage which often leads to dementia.
For this reason, the DRS is raising awareness, stating that strokes are largely preventable. These are their recommendations:
1. Maintain a balanced and varied diet, use less salt and fats, and eat foods rich in fibre such as fruit and vegetable products;
2. Quit smoking and avoid smoking environments (being a passive smoker increases your risk of suffering from a stroke.);
3. Counteract the sedentary lifestyle and take part in regular physical activities;
4. Control your body weight, avoid being overweight;
5. Drink alcohol in moderation;
6. Regularly monitor your blood pressure. Maintain effective control of blood pressure, systolic tension (maximum), should be <140 mmHg and diastolic tension (minimum) <90 mmHg, as these values are associated with a lower risk of stroke and other cardiovascular events;
7. Know and maintain a favourable lipid profile (e.g. cholesterol levels);
8. Know your blood glucose (blood sugar) values. If you are diabetic, keep blood glucose levels under control and continue the treatment that has been indicated.
The common five symptoms of a stroke are: drooping face, decrease in strength in one arm (sometimes accompanied by a decrease in strength in the leg); difficulty in speech, sudden lack or change of vision, and severe headache.
It’s important to recognise the first signs of stroke. The earlier the treatment, the greater the possibility of success.
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