Stroke Risk Factors: How Physical Inactivity Play A Role, Expert Explains
Stroke risk factors: Poor lifestyle and adoption of unhealthy habits like lack of physical exercise, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption increase the risk of stroke in younger generation too.
Lack of physical activity affects your health in various ways
- A stroke is a medical emergency
- Several health conditions can increase the risk of a stroke
- Exercise regularly to beat the risk of stroke
India is currently dealing with a huge burden of both communicable and non-communicable diseases. Stroke is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in India. Stroke is a serious medical condition that requires immediate medical attention and treatment. It is a kind of brain injury caused by blockage of blood flow to the brain thereby gradually destroying the brain cells and in some cases can result in bleeding as well.
As per the health experts, the lifetime risk of stroke increases after the age of 55. But these days due to poor lifestyle and adoption of unhealthy habits like lack of physical exercise, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, stroke cases are reported in the younger generation of the country as well. Due to increased stress as well as rising incidences of diabetes and hypertension, there is a sudden shift in the age bracket of developing lifestyle ailments.
According to the recent study conducted by University of North California, Indians developed ischemic stroke at a younger age in comparison to participants from other developed countries. Apart from the common factors poor eating habits, alcohol and smoking, high prevalence of physical inactivity among the Indian group was the major contributing factor.
Regular Exercise - An important aspect of stroke prevention
Regular exercise not only helps in maintaining overall health but also keeps a list full of diseases at bay. Other major ailments that may lead to a higher risk of stroke include hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol levels.
Hypertension is one of the biggest risk factors for stroke, attributing to over 50% of ischemic strokes (due to blockage) and increasing the chances of hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding in the brain). Thus, regular exercise helps in maintaining the blood pressure levels, thereby reducing the risk for brain stroke by up to 80%.
Also read: Symptoms of stroke
In diabetics, increased blood sugar levels damage all the major blood vessels providing a gateway for the onset of ischemic stroke. Regular exercise not only helps in controlling the blood glucose levels but also curbs down the chances of developing a stroke attack in diabetics.
A high cholesterol level in the body is another factor. With increased levels of LDL(bad cholesterol) the risk for plaque builds up also increases causing atherosclerosis. This makes them prone to losing the integrity of their lining leading to formation of clots, which in turn can prevent blood flow and leads to a stroke. Lack of physical exercise leads to major complications and can have a devastating effect on the vascular system of the brain as well. Following regular exercise pattern and a balanced diet, one can maintain the ratio of good cholesterol in the body.
Intensity level of exercises
Start slowly and gradually develop your exercise schedule. Muscle and bone-strengthening exercises can also be performed but these should be complementary to aerobic exercises like brisk walking, cycling, etc.
Moderate-intensity exercises can be done but it is always advisable to consult your physician before starting an exercise program. Low-intensity exercise if done regularly has long term benefits and helps in controlling the risk for heart disease that may lead to stroke in future. Low-intensity exercises include walking, stretching, yoga and household work.
(Dr. Vipul Gupta, Director- Neurointervention, Agrim Institute of Neuro Sciences, Artemis Hospital, Gurugram)
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