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Of lifestyle, negligence and stroke


NigeriaWith the lifestyle of many Nigerians changing for the worse, coupled with the reigning economic hardship, which puts pressure on families, it is not surprising that too many people are reportedly succumbing to stroke. The condition is indeed gradually assuming epidemic proportions which greater enlightenment should strive to halt.

Not many people, of course, are aware of the potential dangers they face daily from their unhealthy lifestyle. Hence, more people are feared to be potential victims of stroke, which is why public education on preventive measures is of critical importance.

Medical experts have explained why more Nigerians are coming down with stroke to serve as a wakeup call to everyone. Being more cautious in all things could save people from falling victim to the crippling ailment.

According to experts, sleep is a critical factor. Not having up to six hours of sleep daily, they say, is linked to higher risk of stroke. A study published in Sleep Journal Report, says that people who sleep poorly are more likely to have severely hardened arteries, thereby putting them at the risk of stroke. The study suggests sleep monitoring, especially, for old people, as a possible way to identify who is at risk of stroke.

The study further identified potential victims as shift workers and heavy drinkers while air pollution, especially from electric generating sets, and increasing late marriage among women, which it says makes older mothers face increasing risk of stroke and heart attack, as possible causes too.

Strokes is categorised as either ischemic stroke, which involves a blockage of one or more blood vessels supplying to the brain, or hemorrhagic stroke in which case blood vessel ruptures in the brain causing bleeding. This can be caused by hypertension, trauma, blood-thinning medications and weakness in blood vessel walls (aneurysms).

Ischemic stroke is the most common, accounting for around 85 per cent. This kind of stroke occurs when the supply of blood to the brain is either reduced or interrupted. When this happens, the brain does not get enough oxygen or nutrients, which causes the brain cells to die.

Transient ischemic attacks (TIA) occur when the flow of blood to the brain is disrupted temporarily for a short time (partial stroke). This is similar to ischemic stroke in that it is often caused by blood clot. Such attacks serve as warning sign for strokes, indicating that there is a partially blocked artery or clot source in the heart. Clots can be caused by fatty deposits within the arteries called plaques.

The United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) says over a third of people who have TIA eventually have a major stroke within one year if they fail to receive treatment. And between 10-15 per cent have major stroke within three months.

A study by researchers from the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital in three semi-urban communities in the Middle Belt region of Nigeria published in The Pan African Medical, also found a slight increase in stroke prevalence in the communities as opposed to earlier studies.

The study found that stroke prevalence increased with age and has a slight male preponderance. Uncontrolled systemic hypertension and previous transient ischemic attacks were the commonest risk factors for stroke in Nigerian communities. Elsewhere in the United States, records show that approximately 40 per cent of stroke deaths are in males, with 60 per cent in females.

In 2006, the American Heart Association (AHA), released figures of death due to stroke it split into social groups, showing 41.7 per cent for white males, 41.1 per cent for white females, 67.7 per cent for black males and 57.0 per cent for black females.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), stroke accounts for 10.8 per cent mortality and 3.1 per cent of disease burden worldwide. Experts say stroke is more likely to affect people who are overweight, aged 55 and older, have a personal or family history of stroke, do not exercise much and, are heavy drinkers or use’s of illicit drugs.

It has been projected that by the year 2030, about 80 per cent of all stroke cases will occur in low and middle-income countries of the world. An epidemiologic and demographic transition of diseases in most developing countries has led to increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Thus, a recent review of global stroke cases showed that while there is a decline in stroke cases in developed countries, most developing countries like Nigeria are experiencing a rise of about 100 per cent.

The best way to prevent it is to adopt a healthy lifestyle especially by watching food eaten or drinks taken. It is also advisable for adults to monitor their blood pressure (BP) regularly and also check their cholesterol levels, ensuring they are not above the accepted limit.

Not doing so could create a situation in which stroke or, better still, instalmental death, creeps upon a supposed healthy person. Nigerians should save themselves the fate of death by ignorance or negligence.

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