From October 28 to November 3, 2020, South Africa will mark World Stroke Week and World Stroke Day to raise awareness of the symptoms of stroke and the importance of taking treatment for recovery.
World Stroke Day, October 29
It is said that every fourth person will have a stroke.
“Stroke can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere,” writes the World Stroke Organization. “Today stroke is the leading cause of disability worldwide and the second leading cause of death, but almost all strokes can be prevented.”
The organization says 14.5 million people will suffer a stroke and 5.5 million people will die as a result in 2020.
“While 80 million people worldwide have survived a stroke, many who have survived a stroke face significant challenges that include physical disability, communication difficulties, changes in thinking and feeling, job loss, income and social networks.”
In South Africa, strokes claim nearly 70 lives a day, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
Cut the stroke in half
The World Stroke Organization is leading the development and implementation of an integrated prevention strategy that has the potential to halve stroke by 2030. With a focus on low- and middle-income countries where stroke is not only more prevalent but also has the most pervasive impact of the strategy includes:
- Access to low-dose combination therapy for patients at moderate risk of stroke
- Development of stroke specialists Community health workers
- Access to innovative mobile technologies that support access to prevention information
Watch your weight
Like other non-communicable diseases, many strokes can be prevented by changing your healthy lifestyle and taking control of health conditions that increase your risk of stroke. These include maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake, making the right food choices (such as reducing the intake of fatty, salty and sugary foods in favor of vegetables and fruits), daily physical activity and managing daily stress. Being categorized as being overweight increases your risk of stroke by 22% and if you are obese, your risk increases by 64%. This is because carrying too much weight increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes which all contribute to a higher risk of stroke.
Tips for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight
- Aim for a healthy weight loss of 1-2 kg per week. Making small but sustainable long-term changes to your eating and exercise habits is the only way to lose and maintain weight. Avoid dark diets that promise to lose weight fast, you will hardly be able to stick to these and you may not get the nutrients you need.
- Eat a healthy diet. Increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables from foods, whole grains and avoid sugars and saturated fats.
- Move! Make physical activity a part of your daily life. 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day on most days of the week will reduce your risk of stroke and help you manage your weight.
- Stay motivated using online food tracking and exercise apps can help keep you up to date.