Let’s be honest, how much time did you waste on clickbait lists in 2018? You know the ones, like “seven ways to look ten years younger”. In the interests of short attention spans everywhere, the below list will be the most important one you will read this year. I guarantee you won’t get to number three and give up because it’s rubbish. But be warned, what I am about to say will shock you. A recent study has found one in four people will have a stroke in their lifetime. Yes, one in four people will have their lives turned upside down by a disease that attacks the brain – the vital organ responsible for our thoughts, movements and feelings.
Stroke does not discriminate. It can strike anyone, at any age and any time. It impacts everyday people – mums, dads, brothers, friends, colleagues or even you. There will be more than 56,000 strokes in Australia this year. But there is hope – and it is called prevention.
Around 80 percent of strokes can be prevented, and we can all take simple steps to reduce our risk.
- Get your blood pressure checked regularly. Blood pressure is the key risk factor for stroke, but it can be managed. The number of strokes would be practically cut in half (48 percent) if high blood pressure alone was eliminated.
- Manage your cholesterol – High cholesterol contributes to blood vessel disease, which can lead to stroke.
- Eat a healthy balanced diet – avoid sugary drinks and cut the salt.
- Exercise regularly – Inactivity causes weight gain and contributes to high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
- Quit smoking – Smokers have twice the risk of having a stroke than non-smokers.
- Only drink alcohol in moderation – Drinking large amounts of alcohol increases your stroke risk through increased blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, obesity and irregular heart beat (atrial fibrillation).
Remember this list and take your first steps towards reducing your stroke risk in 2019. It could save your life.
Associate Professor Seana Gall
Stroke Foundation Clinical Council member