Walk, Dance, Walk-Dance!
Hi! Welcome to the sixth lesson of the course. Today we’ll focus on the second leading risk factor for stroke, which is physical inactivity, and other surprising factors that can increase our risks as well.
Physical Inactivity and Stroke
Being physically inactive can raise our risk of having a stroke by more than a third, and therefore, physically activity is the second most impactful stroke-prevention approach after controlling high blood pressure.
Regular physical activity helps us to enjoy a healthy life by:
• staying at a healthy weight
• relieving a stress
• feeling better
• sleeping better
all of which can lower stroke risk.
The best way to get started, of course, is to consult your doctor or healthcare provider, who will consider your individual circumstances, especially when planning strength training aimed to burn calories and reinforce your bones and muscles.
But here, for stroke prevention, it’s important to emphasize that getting active doesn’t mean you have to create and follow a plan of high-intensity cardio. Certainly, joining a health club, gym, or specialized center where you’ll have access to exercise equipment and how to use it is a perfect option, but everyday activities like walking, taking the stairs, gardening, and doing housework can be more productive than you may think.
And, of course, dance! It’s a lot of fun! Walk-dance, if you wish! Check out how to walk-dance at home here for inspiration.
In this way, it’ll be easier to stay on track to achieve more lasting benefits, rather than feeling enthusiastic for the first two days and getting tired and demotivated thereafter, which frequently happens after intense workouts, especially when we’re beginners.
The point is to be active every single day!
Pregnancy & Oral Contraceptives
Globally, more women than men suffer a stroke each year; this is not only due to the increased risks related to age or abdominal obesity, which we discussed yesterday, but also because women take oral contraceptives to prevent pregnancy and because of being pregnant as well!
The increased risk for stroke in women taking oral contraceptives is explained by the increased risk of blood clot formation in veins. Even new generation contraceptive pills, which were developed to reduce the risk of blood clotting, represent the same risk for stroke in young, healthy women.
But the risks associated with oral contraceptives are much higher among current smokers compared with nonsmoker women.
And what’s happening when we get pregnant?
Pregnant women and women in the postpartum period are at an increased risk due to altered blood coagulation mechanisms. So, guidelines for the prevention and treatment of pregnancy-related stroke include clot-lysis therapy.
Migraines & Pain Relievers
Migraines are about three times more common in women than men, and they affect almost 25% of women worldwide.
There is a large amount of evidence that migraine is an independent risk factor for stroke, in particular for women who suffer from migraine with aura.
A woman who has a migraine and is using contraceptive pills or is pregnant would have an even greater risk of stroke.
On the other side, the first drugs recommended by doctors for a migraine are typically pain relievers, but actually, previous studies have shown that the use of some pain relievers, particularly NSAIDs, can nearly double the risk of stroke.
In summary, there are no precise recommendations for coping with the stroke risks we’ve discussed in the second half of this lesson, and stroke-preventive strategies in these cases should be selected individually. Now, being aware of these risks, you can consult with your doctor to take action to control them in advance.
By the way, I was 30, I had history of migraines, and I was two months pregnant when I had a stroke.
Tomorrow, we’ll discuss another modifiable risk factor of stroke, alcohol overconsumption, and will have a closer look at the incidence of stroke globally by age groups.
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