Here’s how to reduce the risk of stroke as a Diabetic
Added to the impaired blood flow, particularly to your legs and feet, the risk of suffering a stroke is much higher than for non-Diabetics. By definition, a stroke is sudden and disabling episode, caused by an interruption of blood flow to the brain.
There are a few things you can cut down on, or avoid starting altogether (with the right kind of environment and other coping mechanisms).
- Consuming alcohol
- Giving in to temptation from artificial and/or commercial treats
There are other things which you could also do more often:
- Monitor blood sugar levels and other vitals (like cholesterol) regularly
- Maintain an exercise regimen of at least 30mins daily
- Set yourself small weekly goals and focus on achieving those, instead of the mammoth battle of fighting Diabetes
How does this help?
As you’ll find in a number of our articles, we cover the relationship between Diabetes and multiple other health risks. Stroke is just one of the possible dangers of living with Diabetes. The best preventative measures for most conditions revolve around nutrition and exercise.
So if you want to make the most of your life, even after your diagnosis, these are the first two things you can change, usually without much expense.
How to tell if you’re having a stroke
You might have received your Diabetes diagnosis at an advanced stage of the condition. Your doctor, nurse or clinic sister will always give you as much information as they can, so listen carefully, make notes and be sure to ask all of the questions which come to your mind. Naturally, the more advanced your condition is, the higher your risk of suffering a stroke.
‘FAST’ is the acronym for identifying stroke symptoms (Saebo, 2019). If you notice any of these, call your local emergency number to request an ambulance immediately. A quick reaction could save your life and ensure that no permanent nerve damage occurs:
- F = Facial drooping. One or more of your facial features may start to sag within 60 seconds.
- A = Arm weakness. You won’t be able to keep both your arms raised if you’re suffering a stroke. One or both of your arms will weaken as well, within seconds.
- S = Speech impairment. Your tongue might feel thick or heavy in your mouth and total control of your lips will feel impossible.
- T = Time. Don’t wait. Immediately after noticing these symptoms in yourself or in your loved ones, call for an ambulance.
Beyond the F.A.S.T. indicators, there are other symptoms of a stroke:
- numbness or weakness in one side of the face or body
- a severe headache
- trouble walking and other coordination and balance problems
- trouble seeing in one or both eyes
Even if symptoms disappear within moments, you need to follow through. Even a few minutes of oxygen deprivation can have a permanent impact on your brain, and your ability to function physically.
According to their website, the AHA consider diabetes to be “one of the seven major controllable risk factors for cardiovascular disease,” a list that also includes obesity, high blood pressure, an unhealthful diet, and smoking cigarettes.
There are three types of strokes you need to know about
Ischemic strokes are specifically caused by blood clots. These could be anywhere in your blood stream but cause blockage of blood flow into your brain. A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is commonly known as a mini-stroke; in these types of strokes, symptoms disappear but effects can last long afterwards. Hemorrhagic strokes, however, are caused by burst blood vessels, or leaks from weakened ones. This is another motivator for keeping up with your exercise goals, to strengthen the walls in your veins and arteries.
Like with any emergency situation, always do your best to remain calm and think logically. If you live alone, it’s worth becoming acquainted with a neighbour and swapping numbers for emergency situations. If you suffer a stroke and you’re still able to walk, try to move toward someone who is able to assist you.
Dansinger, M. 2019. The link between stroke and diabetes. WebMD. 19 February. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/type-2-diabetes-guide/diabetes-stroke#2-7 [Accessed 7 August 2019].
Fletcher, J. 2019. What is the link between diabetes and stroke?. Medical News Today. 9 April. Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324924.php [Accessed 7 August 2019].
Saebo. 2018. How to detect the early warning signs of a stroke. 10 June. Available at: https://www.saebo.com/detect-early-warning-signs-stroke/ [Accessed 7 August 2019].