Stroke prevention: The habit to reduce as it may ‘trigger an irregular heartbeat’ – tips

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It says it is not possible to completely prevent strokes because some things that increase your risk of the condition cannot be changed. Nonetheless, some dietary changes may be able to help. The NHS explains: “The best way to help prevent a stroke is to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and avoid smoking and drinking too much alcohol.”

Indeed, the health body explains that excessive alcohol consumption can lead to high blood pressure and trigger an irregular heartbeat.

It also says that because alcoholic drinks are high in calories, they also cause weight gain. Heavy drinking multiplies the risk of stroke by more than three times.

The Stroke Association says: “Regularly drinking too much alcohol raises your risk of a stroke.

“Alcohol contributes to a number of conditions that can increase your risk of stroke, so it’s important that you don’t drink more than the recommended limit on a regular basis.”

The NHS says if you choose to drink alcohol and have fully recovered, you should aim not to exceed the recommended limits:

Men and women are advised not to regularly drink more than 14 units a week
Spread your drinking over 3 days or more if you drink as much as 14 units a week

The NHS says: “If you have not fully recovered from your stroke, you may find you have become particularly sensitive to alcohol and even the recommended safe limits may be too much for you.”

The Stroke Association says: “If you have had a stroke or transient ischaemic attack (TIA or mini-stroke), it’s a good idea to get some individual advice about alcohol. It’s likely that you can drink, but it may be more important to stick within the guidelines for safe levels of drinking.”

The organisation says: “If you feel that you may be drinking too much or you can’t control your drinking, it’s especially important to talk about it. Help is available through your GP, and there are local alcohol support groups in many areas.”

The NHS says: “A good place to start is with a GP. Try to be accurate and honest about how much you drink and any problems it may be causing you.”

The health body says if you have become physically dependent and need to stop drinking completely, stopping overnight could be harmful.

“You should get advice about this and about any medicine you may need to do this safely,” it explains.

The NHS says a low-fat, high-fibre diet is usually recommended to help prevent strokes, including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (5 A Day) and wholegrains.

Its website reads: “Ensuring a balance in your diet is important. Do not eat too much of any single food, particularly foods high in salt and processed foods.

“You should limit the amount of salt you eat to no more than 6g (0.2oz) a day as too much salt will increase your blood pressure: 6g of salt is about one teaspoonful.”

It says that regular exercise can also help lower your cholesterol and keep your blood pressure healthy.

The NHS says if you suspect you or someone else is having a stroke, phone 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance. It notes: “Even if the symptoms disappear while you’re waiting for the ambulance, it’s still important to go to hospital for an assessment.”

It says the main stroke symptoms can be remembered with the word FAST:

  • Face – the face may have dropped on 1 side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have drooped.
  • Arms – the person may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of weakness or numbness in 1 arm.
  • Speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake; they may also have problems understanding what you’re saying to them.
  • Time – it’s time to dial 999 immediately if you notice any of these signs or symptoms.

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