The rise of heart disease and stroke cases in the Philippines is a sign of the times. As globalization spreads throughout the country, Filipinos now have the privilege of buying from fast food chains and ready-to-eat goods. Long gone are the days when a home-cooked meal and your packed lunch were your only options as more restaurants are opening in every corner of the city. But convenience comes at a price: your unhealthy lifestyle could be the beginnings of a stroke that’s waiting to happen.
Stroke is a worldwide epidemic
Every six seconds a person dies from stroke worldwide. Stroke is the #1 cause of death in Asia and it comes in a close second just after ischemic heart disease around the world. According to Mayo Clinic, “a stroke happens when there is a blocked artery (ischemic stroke) or the leaking/bursting of a blood vessel (hemorrhagic stroke).” Ischemic or infarct strokes affect almost 70% of patients, while hemorrhagic strokes or more popularly known as an aneurysm, are less common at 30%. Adults aged 55 years and older are more likely to suffer from a stroke. Men are also at more risk due to the difference in lifestyle and habits. People with heart disease and diabetes greatly increase the chances of stroke. Early symptoms include sudden numbing of the face, arms, or legs, which often happens just on one side of the body. Other things to watch out for are slurred speech, unexpected blurred vision, and difficulty with walking. In an event sponsored by UMED, Dr. John Jerusalem Tiongson, Chairman of the Department of Neurology at The Medical City, shares that the golden hour for stroke patients is only three hours. “It can worsen over time and it is treatable if you arrive at the emergency room of a hospital that is capable of reversing it,” Dr. Tiongson adds that anything beyond the grace period can lead to permanent paralysis. Stroke patients should seek medical help from hospitals equipped with a stroke team and a stroke unit.
How to prevent a stroke from happening
Stroke is treatable and preventable provided you lead a healthy life. Eat everything in moderation and exercise 4-7 times a week. Excessive stress, smoking, drinking, illicit drug use, and a sedentary lifestyle greatly increase your chances of suffering from a stroke. Avoid eating fatty foods and limit your intake of alcoholic beverages to two glasses/bottles a day. Patients with obstructive sleep apnea are also more prone to stroke. Non-modifiable risks include heredity so ask your family about your medical history. Eating a balanced diet can reduce the possibility of stroke. Avoid salty and oily foods that have high cholesterol content and opt for more vegetables in your daily intake. Sugary treats can also contribute to your unhealthy habits—fruits are better alternatives for that afternoon snack. It is important to stay alert and to detect the early symptoms of stroke before it’s too late. ASC Reference Code: U137P032018U