World Stroke Day: Expert urges increased physical activities, healthy lifestyle

There is need for the people to be conscious of the risk factors that predispose them to stroke, maintain a balanced diet and constant exercise, to stay away from suffering a stroke.

The Chief Executive, Stroke Action Nigeria, Rita Melifonwu gave the advice while speaking with TNC correspondent on Thursday on World Stroke Day.

The World Stroke Day is celebrated on 29 October each year to raise awareness of the global burden of strokes.

Stroke, which now a global burden, is brain attack that happens when the blood vessels or artery in the brain is blocked by a blood clot (Ischemic stroke) or when there is a bleeding into the brain (hemorrhagic stroke).

When a stroke happens on the left side of the brain, there is paralysis on the right side of the body and vice versa.

According to the World Stroke Organisation, up-to 14.5 million people suffer stroke every year the world over, with about 80 million people living with the sickness globally.

In Nigeria, about 1.14 people out of every 1000, have stroke every year meaning that for a population of about 190,000, about 200,000 Nigerians suffer stroke annually.

According to Melifonwu, statistics has shown that stroke is the second leading cause of death and disability worldwide.

She identified some of the risk factors to include genetic factors, high cholesterol level, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart conditions, consumption of too much salt and fried foods among others.

“Some people are born with a hole in their hearts and this can cause blood to clot. Too much alcohol, smoking can also cause stroke and recently, we have been told that the coronavirus can also cause stroke. If anyone is exposed to any of these risk factors, one may be at risk of having a stroke,” she said.

She spoke on the ‘FAST’ method of knowing whether one has had a stroke.

In her analysis, “F stands for face which entails checking the face to see whether the mouth is bent on one side which is an indication. A is for arm, you can ask the person to stretch both arms forward. If the person has had a stroke, one the arms will fall. S is for speech and under here the person speaks and if the speech is slurred, it is also a sign. And the last is T which is time because time is brain. The earlier you take the person to the hospital to be treated and be seen by a doctor, the chances that you will save the person’s life.”

On how to stay safe from stroke, Melifonwu said the most important thing to do is to be aware of risk factors.

“If you have high blood pressure or diabetes, please take your tablets. Maintain a healthy balanced diet that does not contain too much oil or salt, exercise more often, manage your weight and you will stay away from stroke. Stroke can happen to all irrespective of the age brackets or class,” she said.

Melifonwu who is also a Board Member, World Stroke Organization, explained that this year’s celebration aims to raise awareness on the need for more efforts at prevention in response to the growing incidents of stroke focusing on physical activities.

She said this year’s celebration which will be done virtually, will see people record their dancing activities and share over the social to encourage people to engage in physical activities and exercise as a means of healthy living.

“Considering the current pandemic, campaign activation and resources will be focused on supporting visibility and engagement on social media with an aim to inject some fun into physical activity by creating a “Global Dance Chain”.

“The plan is to highlight physical exercise but to also inject some fun and sense of community/connection in the fight against stroke.

“Each member of the dance chain will record themselves doing a short dance using four of their signature moves and their dance will be posted on social media, tagging four friends, who will be asked to take the last move in the video, add three of their own and share again, tagging four friends,” she said.

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