Stroke is a “brain attack” cutting off vital supplies of blood and oxygen to the brain. A stroke happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off.
Over 80 per cent of strokes happen because of a blockage in an artery.
According to the Deputy Programme Manager for Non Communicable Diseases Control Programme, Dr Efua Commeh, one of the major causes of stroke is hypertension (Page 32 Daily Graphic, October 30.)
Dr Commeh also drew attention to a worrying statistics pointing to the fact that 50 to 70 per cent of the Ghanaian population had never checked their blood pressure.
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One of the big problems with hypertension is that it actually causes very few symptoms in most people. Even apparently very fit people can have high blood pressure without realising it, but in severe cases, there may be nosebleeds, headaches, sleeping difficulties, confusion and breathing problems.
If hypertension is left untreated or a person is unaware he or she has it, then the person’s chances of having a heart attack or stroke are greatly increased. By treating it, complications can be avoided and a normal life span can be reasonably expected.
Some ways to control blood pressure
Information on line accessed from mayoclinic.org spells out 10 point lifestyle changes that can lower ones blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease.
• Lose extra pounds and watch your waistline. Blood pressure often increases as weight increases.
• Exercise regularly: Regular physical activity — such as 150 minutes a week or about 30 minutes most days of the week — can lower ones blood pressure by about five to eight mm Hg if the person has high blood pressure.
* Eat a healthy diet: Eating a diet that is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products can lower a person’s blood pressure by up to 11 mm Hg if you have high blood pressure.
• Reduce sodium in your diet: Even a small reduction in the sodium in your diet can improve your heart health and reduce blood pressure by about five to six mm Hg if you have high blood pressure.
• Limit the amount of alcohol intake: Drinking more than moderate amounts of alcohol can actually raise blood pressure by several points.
• Quit smoking: Each cigarette you smoke increases your blood pressure for many minutes after you finish.
• Cut back on caffeine: Caffeine can raise blood pressure up to 10 mm Hg in people who rarely consume it.
• Reduce stress: Chronic stress may contribute to high blood pressure.