Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Be Physically Active To Prevent Stroke!

A stroke occurs when the brain cells die because of a lack of oxygen. This can happen when there is a rupture of an artery that feeds the brain (hemorrhagic stroke) or an obstruction in the blood flow (ischemic stroke). A stroke patient can suddenly lose their ability to speak, has immobility of one side of the body, have memory problems or might even end up with death.

Previous studies have shown that physical inactivity is the second most important risk factor for stroke, after high blood pressure. According to a recent study conducted by researchers from the University of South Australia and the University of Alabama, Birmingham, USA, if a person works out enough to break a sweat on a regular basis, he or she is less likely to have a stroke compared to people who are physically inactive.

The researchers, whose findings were published online July 18, 2013 in journal ‘Stroke’, claimed that their study was the first to quantify protective effects of physical activity on stroke in a large multiracial group of men and women in the United States.

More than 27,000 Americans aged 47 or more were followed for an average of 5.7 years. These participants were part of the REGARDS study (Reasons for Geographic and Ethnic Differences in Stroke) that consisted of equal numbers of males and females, as well as Caucasians and African-Americans.

All the participants reported on how often they did exercise but the study did not include details on how long each exercise session lasted. The researchers found that one third of all the people studied said they exercised less than once a week and these people had a 20 percent higher chance of getting a stroke or TIA (transient ischemic attack). They also found that men who exercised moderately or vigorously (enough to break a sweat) 4 times a week or more were less likely to have a stroke.

Nevertheless, there was a less clear link between vigorous physical activity and stroke risk among the female participants. This could be because women might benefit from less vigorous exercise, such as walking. The study did not focus on less vigorous physical activities. An article published in Stroke in January 2013 reported that walking reduces stroke risk in women.

A TIA or mini-stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain drops temporarily, causing a lack of oxygen. The short-lived oxygen deprivation is less serious than a full-blown stroke, and it only lasts a few minutes and is gone within a day. Nevertheless, between 10 and 15 percent of people who have TIA might go on to experience a full-blown stroke within 3 months. Approximately half-a-million Americans are thought to experience a mini-stroke annually.

There is no doubt that physical activity is a good way to reduce the risk of developing various diseases including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommended that people aged between 18 and 65 should exercise moderately at least 5 times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes per session.

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