Diabetes has reached epidemic proportions. According to the World Health Organization, (http://www.who.int/en/), the number of people with diabetes has risen from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014. In addition, diabetes is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke and lower limb amputation.
For persons with diabetes, there is an increased risk of stroke if blood sugars are not controlled. Hyperglycemia (elevated blood sugar levels) can cause vessel inflammation, which raises the risk of stroke. A quick review, first, of stroke symptoms, using the F.A.S.T. acronym:
F- facial asymmetry
A -arm weakness
S -speech changes
T- time of onset of symptoms
If you experience any of these symptoms, you should seek immediate medical care. Time is brain and immediate care can be lifesaving, reducing the risk of long-term disability.
Lifestyle changes that may reduce your risk of an initial / recurrent stroke can also improve your overall health and wellbeing. Simple changes can lower the risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
Increase physical activity- aim for 30 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week
Limit alcohol intake to 1 drink /day for women and 2 drinks/day for men
Stop smoking (this includes electronic cigarettes as well as chewing tobacco)
Get adequate sleep (7-8 hours a night is ideal)
Weight loss, if applicable, to maintain ideal body weight
Maintain a healthy blood pressure- check with your healthcare provider for guidance
Diet- incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet; whole grains, lower intake of sugary beverages, lean meats. Also limit your sodium/salt intake by switching to herbs and spices for flavor enhancements.
Persons with high blood pressure should monitor their blood pressure at home, between doctors’ visits. Daily blood pressure checks enable a person to better control their health and well-being. As hypertension is often asymptomatic, daily monitoring may detect a problem before symptoms arise, allowing intervention before a medical emergency arises.
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