Stroke: Even moderate activity may reduce risk – recommended levels

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The NHS says: “For most people, at least 150 minutes (two hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as cycling or fast walking, every week is recommended. If you’re recovering from a stroke, you should discuss possible exercise plans with the members of your rehabilitation team.”

A meta-analysis published in the AHA Journals examined the overall association between physical activity or cardiorespiratory fitness and stroke incidence or mortality.

The meta-analysis found that there was a reduction in stroke risk for active or fit individuals compared with inactive or unfit persons in cohort, case-control, and both study types combined.

Highly active individuals had a 25 percent lower risk of stroke incidence or mortality compared with low-active individuals.

Indeed, moderately and highly active individuals had lower risk of both ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes than low-active individuals.

The Stroke Association says: “Exercise can reduce your risk of having a stroke or transient ischaemic attack (TIA).

“Just 30 minutes of moderate activity five days a week can reduce your risk of stroke by over 25 percent.”

It adds: “Before becoming more active or starting to exercise you should speak to your GP, particularly if you have not done any exercise for some time.

“The side effects of some kinds of medication may also affect your exercise choices.”

The Mayo Clinic says that “knowing your stroke risk factors, following your doctor’s recommendations and adopting a healthy lifestyle” are the best steps you can take to prevent a stroke.

In general, healthy lifestyle recommendations include controlling high blood pressure, and healthy lifestyle changes and medications are often used to treat high blood pressure.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) says anxiety, depression, and high stress levels are all risk factors.

It adds: “Working long hours and not having much contact with friends, family, or others outside the home are also linked with higher risk of stroke.”

There are also a number of risk factors, including unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as eating unhealthy foods, not getting regular physical activity, drinking alcohol, and using illegal drugs such as cocaine.

The signs and symptoms of a stroke vary from person to person, but usually begin suddenly.

The main stroke symptoms include changes to the face. Your face may have dropped on one side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have drooped.

Signs may also occur on the arms – “the person may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of weakness or numbness in one arm”, says the NHS.

Their speech may be slurred or garbled, “or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake” and “they may also have problems understanding what you’re saying to them”, adds the health body.

Call 999 immediately if you notice any of these signs or symptoms

If you were already active or sporty before a stroke, whether you can go back to exercising the way you did before your stroke will depend on how your stroke has affected you, according to the Stroke Association.

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