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Nov 1, 2012

Healthy Living reduces the chance of catching a stroke

World Stroke Day was observed on October twenty-ninth; it went by without much fanfare but according to one specialist, Belizeans suffer far more strokes than we realize.  Poor lifestyle habits, hypertension and diabetes contribute to the risk of stroke.  Healthy Living tonight looks at the causes of a stroke and what you can do to minimize the risk of having one.

 

Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

It is a fairly common medical emergency that occurs often when people least expect it. Its impact though can be mild, severe or even fatal. Neurologist, Dr John Sosa, provides some basic information about strokes and the reasons you may be susceptible.

 

Dr. John Sosa, Neurologist

John Sosa

“Stroke is when you don’t get enough oxygen to the brain. So you can have a blockage where blood doesn’t pass through an artery and the brain behind that artery goes dead. Or you can have a bleeding itself inside the brain and that piece of brain dies—it is either ischemic or hemorrhagic. The biggest risk is hypertension. But you have several risks with strokes. You have diabetes, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, smoking, being overweight or obese—just in general having a bad diet, you put yourself at risk. You can get cloths in the arteries and that causes blood not to pass and if blood doesn’t pass then there is no oxygen and you have problems. In Belize right now we have a stroke epidemic; you have lot of people having strokes because of bad diet, bad lifestyle and what happens is that we don’t take care of our high blood pressure or diabetes. We eat bad food.”

 

Other risk factors that may lead to blockage or rupture that causes a stroke may include diabetes, high cholesterol and triglycerides, obesity, excessive drinking or smoking. Without knowledge of the risk factors some still believe that only elder persons are at risk to strokes. But Dr Sosa reminds us: not so.

 

Dr. John Sosa

“People like to think it can’t happen to me. But if you have high blood pressure, your risk is higher, if you have diabetes; it is much higher. If your cholesterol, triglycerides is high, it’s higher; you smoke it is higher, you drink too high, it is higher. Younger people can get strokes; most younger people with strokes. Well Belize is a curious case because we see people as young as twenty twenty-five with high blood pressure. But you can have strokes due to sickle cell disease and problems with how your blood conglobates. It can give young people strokes. Curiously enough, for women who drink hard, for them they have a higher risk of stroke than men. You see in advertisements that men can have two drinks a day and a woman just one and it has to do with hormonal imbalances.”

 

The response time for person who is having a stroke is most crucial. It may be the difference between disability and even death.

 

Dr. John Sosa

“Strokes are fatal very frequently especially the ones where you bleed—fifteen percent of all strokes are the ones where you bleed because it causes a lot of pressure on the brain. Ischemic Strokes more people live, more than nine in ten. For bad hemorrhagic strokes, the mortally can be really high like one in two; on average one in six or seven. Sometimes you get a lot of improvement; we call that stroke rehabilitation which is the only thing you can do after having a stroke. So most of the time you are paralyzed on one side, you can’t speak well, you don’t understand well or you are totally confused; visual problems. The major cause of disability worldwide is stroke. And the second major cause of mortality worldwide is stroke.”

 

Some of the ways to reduce your risk of having a stroke are keeping a healthy Diet, cutting back on unhealthy habits like smoking and drinking and getting in enough exercise. Of course, there are some factors that are out of your control. Therefore, the best advice is to learn how to spot the early signs of a stroke.

 

Dr. John Sosa

“The majority of strokes are what we call silent strokes; probably eight-ninety percent of strokes are silent. Unless you take MRI or scans then you see the stroke. But there are warning signs that are important and some that you have to take in account because nearly all the time, they signify that you had a stroke. Facial weakness, or numbness on the hand or legs or part of the body; or speech problems. Those are very, very advanced warning signs. But that people should pay attention.”

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