May is Action On Stroke Month Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Every five minutes someone in the UK has a stroke

May is Action On Stroke month, and Bedfordshire and Luton Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) are offering advice on how to reduce the risk of suffering from this potentially life threatening condition.

Dr Sanhita Chakrabarti, Bedfordshire CCG’s clinical lead for long-term conditions, said:

“Although strokes can affect anyone at any age, it is generally older people over the age of 55 who are most at risk. The most common type of stroke is caused when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain, and blood clots usually form where the arteries have narrowed or have been blocked by fatty deposits.”

The narrowing of arteries can be due to age but other factors can accelerate the process and increase the risk of stroke. These include:

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Drinking too much alcohol

Making simple lifestyle changes can significantly reduce the risk of having a stroke, as well as improving general health.

“By giving up smoking, cutting down on alcohol, eating a balanced diet to maintain a healthy weight and taking regular exercise can all help to keep strokes at bay.”

Have regular check-ups with your GP

People suffering from long-term conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure are more prone to having a stroke. Dr Chakrabarti advises anyone diagnosed with these illnesses and taking medication to have regular check-ups to ensure their condition is under control.

Family history and ethnicity can also be factors, as Dr Uzma Sarwar from Luton CCG said:

“Strokes often run in families, so if you have a close relative who has had a stroke you should speak to your GP who will carry out some health checks to assess your risk and, if necessary, advise you on what to do to reduce it.

“Rates of diabetes and high blood pressure are higher among people from African or Caribbean backgrounds and from South Asian countries, such as India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

“Therefore they too should be aware their risk of having a stroke is greater, particularly if they are over fifty, smoke, drink more than the recommended weekly alcohol intake or are overweight.”

Stroke is the fourth biggest killer in the UK. If you are in a high risk group, take action today and make an appointment to see your GP.