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When we talk about a disease that can kill a person in an instant, stroke or cerebrovascular accident (CVA) always comes first in our minds. Our brain won’t survive long without oxygen so if an arterial blockage disrupts the blood flow towards the head, it will only take few minutes before someone bid a final farewell. However, stroke, regardless if its ischemic (occlusion of blood flow by fatty plaques) or hemorrhagic (blood vessels in the brain suddenly burst, increasing the pressure within the skull), is not too strong for us not to overcome it. With the right perspective, a person can rise above the modifiable risk factors associated with stroke like sedentary lifestyle, family history, smoking and unhealthy diet regimen. And speaking of diet, nothing can be more befitting than a list of foods which can potentially increase one’s chance of having stroke. Here are just some of the worst food choices for someone who is at high-risk for stroke.
Note: I’m not in any way discouraging you to eat these foods. The choice of eating the foods listed below is still yours but just like what most health experts are suggesting, moderation will always remain as the rule of the thumb in every food consumption.
Baked goods (chips, muffins, doughnuts and other pastries)
Home-cooked pastries might not be as bad but if you eat their commercial counterparts, you might also be increasing your chances of suffering from stroke and other heart-related diseases later in your life. This is because baked goods that are being sold in the market like our favorite doughnuts and muffins are high in trans-fats, a hydrogenated oil involved in the development of plaques that are known to obstruct the body’s major blood vessels. According to the research study done at University of North Carolina, people who consume a total of 7 grams of trans fats a day (equal to 2 doughnuts) have 30% more chances of getting stroke than those who only eat 1 gram or less of trans fats. If you are fond of eating baked goods, experts recommend to change your options into whole wheat/grain products that are known to provide heart-friendly fiber.
Food preservation normally requires additional flavorings and other additives; sodium or salt is one of them. According to American Heart Association, the normal daily sodium requirement is less than 1,500 mg but in reality, more people go beyond this limit. For example, an average canned soup contains more than 1,100 mg of sodium and if combined with other products containing hidden sodium in their nutritional facts (e.g. MSG, baking soda, baking powder), the risk of getting stroke will increase significantly. Studies have shown that high-sodium diet causes hypertension, weakening of the blood vessel walls and eventually, stroke. For this reason, careful monitoring of products being offered in the market and choosing low-sodium meals to complete the day remain to be highly recommended by medical experts and health conscious individuals alike.
It sounds right at first but drinking “soda” for the sake of “diet” alone might not be a good idea if we’re going to talk about stroke risk factors. According to a study done at Columbia University, risk for stroke and other cardiovascular diseases are increased to as much as 60% for people who drink one diet soda a day. The exact link between diet soda and stroke is yet to be confirmed but experts recommend replacement of diet soda by water and other healthy fluids. If you are going to complete the requirement of 5 to 8 ounces of water a day, you can actually decrease your chances of getting stroke by 53%.
According to a study published in Stroke journal, women who usually eat large portion of red meat a day has a higher incidents of stroke compared to those who eat measly amounts or none at all. Red meat is naturally rich in both saturated fats and heme iron, two components that increase the viscosity of blood and boost the formation of hard plaques in the body’s major blood vessels. Healthier alternatives include poultry with white meat and fatty fish like salmon that is rich in heart-friendly omega-3 fatty acids.
Hot dogs and other processed meats have been known to cause cancer but as it turned out, you can get a double whammy if you continue to relish in these meat products. Processed and smoked meats are high in sodium but medical researchers also found an existing link between preservatives found in these products and degradation of blood vessel walls. Sodium nitrite and nitrate cause weakening of the blood vessels and an eventual formation of hard plaques that cause occlusion. According to a meta-analysis done by the journal Circulation, a 42% increase in risk for coronary artery diseases (CAD) has been found in people who consume processes meats on a daily basis.
Now, if someone is showing some signs of impending brain attack, immediate medical attention is always advised. Here are the signs of stroke that everyone must remember:
In the U.S., if they suspect a stroke, they act FAST!
F – facial asymmetry(Tabingi ang mukha)
A – arm drift (Bumibigay ang isang kamay)
S – speech (Pagbago ng pagsasalita — bulol o hindi maintindhan)
T – time to call.
Here in the Philippines, doctors call it UTAK.
U – utal (stuttering)
T – tabingi ang mukha o tindig (uneven facial expression)
A – angal nang angal ng sakit ng ulo (rants of headache)
K – kumilos at komunsulta agad! (act and consult a doctor)
Photo credit: docakilah.wordpress.com
“Salamat Dok: Stroke – The brain attack” by Yam dela Cruz. ABS-CBN News.com. October 28, 2010
“5 Foods That Can Trigger a Stroke” by Melanie Haiken. Caring.com
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