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Stroke Awareness & How To Prevent Stroke

[fa icon="calendar"] May 12, 2020 10:00:00 AM / by Calvin Leong

Blog Stroke Awareness-01

Cerebrovascular accident (CVA) or more commonly known as a stroke, occurs when blood flow to an area of the brain is interrupted. The signs and symptoms of stroke can occur suddenly and usually affects only one side of the body and worsen within the first 24 to 72 hours. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in Malaysia.

A closeup cropped portrait of a doctor performing heart lungs chest physical exam  listening with stethoscope on an elderly senior mature man sitting on black chair, isolated on a white background.

What Are The Warning Signs Of A Stroke?

The warning signs of a stroke can be easily remembered as BEFAST.

B is for balance. Signs include:
           loss of balance or coordination.
           sudden trouble walking.

E is for eyes. Signs include:
          a sudden change in vision.
          trouble seeing.

F is for face. Signs include:
         sudden weakness or numbness of the face.
         face or eyelid drooping to one side.

A is for arms. Signs include:
        sudden weakness or numbness of the arm, usually on one side of the body.

S is for speech. Signs include:
       trouble speaking (aphasia).
       trouble understanding.

T is for time:
       immediately call for help.


These symptoms may represent a serious problem that is an emergency. Do not wait to see if the symptoms will go away. Get medical help right away. Call your local emergency services (999 in the Malaysia). Do not drive yourself to the hospital.

Other signs of stroke may include:
  • a sudden, severe headache with no known cause.
  • nausea or vomiting.

Some medical conditions and behaviours are associated with a higher chance of having a stroke. You can help prevent a stroke by making nutrition, lifestyle, and other changes, including managing any medical conditions you may have.

3D emergency ambulance assisting a guy - isolated over a white background

What Nutrition Changes Can Be Made?

Eat healthy foods. You can do this by:

  • Choosing foods high in fibre, such as fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains.
  • Eating at least five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Try to fill half of your plate at each meal with fruits and vegetables.
  • Choosing lean protein foods, such as lean cuts of meat, poultry without skin, fish, tofu, beans, and nuts.
  • Eating low-fat dairy products.
  • Avoiding foods that are high in salt (sodium). This can help lower blood pressure.
  • Avoiding foods that have saturated fat, trans-fat, and cholesterol. This can help prevent high cholesterol.
  • Avoiding processed foods.
Follow your health care provider's specific guidelines for losing weight, controlling high blood pressure (hypertension), lowering high cholesterol, and managing diabetes. These may include:
  • reducing your daily calorie intake.
  • limiting your daily sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams (mg).
  • using only healthy fats for cooking, such as olive oil.
  • counting your daily carbohydrate intake.

Healthy food composition with tablet

What Lifestyle Changes Can Be Made?

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Talk to your health care provider about your ideal weight.
  • Get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least five days a week. Moderate activity includes brisk walking, biking, and swimming.
  • Do not use any products that contain nicotine or tobacco, such as cigarettes and e-cigarettes. If you need help quitting, ask your health care provider. It may also be helpful to avoid exposure to second hand smoke.
  • Limit alcohol intake to no more than 1 drink a day for non-pregnant women and 2 drinks a day for men. One drink equals 12 oz of beer, 5 oz of wine, or 1½ oz of hard liquor.
  • Stop any illegal drug use.
  • Avoid taking birth control pills. Talk to your health care provider about the risks of taking birth control pills if you are over 35 years old, a smoker or if you get migraines and have a history of getting a blood clot in the body.

people group jogging, runners team on morning  training

What Other Changes Can Be Made?

Manage your cholesterol levels by

  • eating a healthy diet as it is important for preventing high cholesterol. If cholesterol cannot be managed through diet alone, you may also need to take medicines.
  • taking any prescribed medicines to control your cholesterol as told by your health care provider.

Manage your diabetes by

  • eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly as they are important parts of managing your blood sugar. If your blood sugar cannot be managed through diet and exercise, you may need to take medicines.
  • taking any prescribed medicines to control your diabetes as told by your health care provider.

Control your hypertension by

  • keeping your blood pressure below 130/80mmHg.
  • eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. These are important parts of controlling your blood pressure. If your blood pressure cannot be managed through diet and exercise, you may need to take medicines.
  • taking any prescribed medicines to control hypertension as told by your health care provider.
  • have your blood pressure checked regularly, even if your blood pressure is normal. Blood pressure increases with age and some medical conditions.

    Closeup of nurse checking senior woman blood pressure

Get evaluated for sleep disorders (sleep apnea). Talk to your health care provider about getting a sleep evaluation if you snore a lot or have excessive sleepiness.

Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your health care provider. Aspirin or blood thinners may be recommended to reduce your risk of forming blood clots that can lead to stroke.

Make sure that any other medical conditions you have, such as atrial fibrillation or atherosclerosis, are managed.

Summary

  • You can prevent a stroke by eating healthy, exercising, not smoking, limiting alcohol intake, and managing any medical conditions you may have.
  • Do not use any products that contain nicotine or tobacco, such as cigarettes and e-cigarettes. If you need help quitting, ask your health care provider. It may also be helpful to avoid exposure to second hand smoke.
  • Remember BEFAST for warning signs of stroke. Get help right away if you or a loved one has any of these signs.

This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.

 

References:

Elkind MS. Why now? Moving from stroke risk factors to stroke triggers. Curr Opin Neurol. 2007; 20:51–57.

Foreman KJ, Marquez N, Dolgert A, et al. Forecasting life expectancy, years of life lost, and all-cause and cause-specific mortality for 250 causes of death: reference and alternative scenarios for 2016–40 for 195 countries and territories. The Lancet 2018; 392(10159): 2052-2090.

George MG, Tong X, Kuklina EV, Labarthe DR. Trends in stroke hospitalizations and associated risk factors among children and young adults, 1995-2008.Ann Neurol. 2011; 70:713–721

Hwong WY, Bots ML, Selvarajah S, et al. Sex differences in stroke metrics among Southeast Asian countries: Results from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015. Int J Stroke 2019

Lindsay P, Furie KL, Davis SM, et al. World Stroke Organization global stroke services guidelines and action plan. Int J Stroke 2014; 9 (Suppl A100): 4-13.

Powers BJ, Danus S, Grubber JM, Olsen MK, Oddone EZ, Bosworth HB. The effectiveness of personalized coronary heart disease and stroke risk communication. Am Heart J. 2011; 161:673–680.

 

For more information on stroke, visit:

Malaysia Stroke Counsel

National Stroke Association of Malaysia (NASAM)

American Stroke Association

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

 

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Topics: Wellness

Calvin Leong

Written by Calvin Leong

Calvin Leong holds a Master in Medical Education from the University of Dundee, United Kingdom. He is certified in Clinical Wound Care by the ASEAN Wound Care Association. Calvin has 20 years of clinical and lecturing experience focusing on Mentoring in Healthcare, Traumatology and Medical Sciences. Calvin is HRDC certified trainer. He is also a Life Member of The Malaysian Association for the Study of Pain (MASP) and the Malaysian Society of Wound Care Professionals (MSWCP).

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