Spent an hour with my friend John Mullin on IHUB radio recently. John is 14 weeks post stroke and feeling strong. While his stroke was relatively minor, he suffered some transient speech problems along with a number of the symptomatic behavioral and cognitive issues that occur with brain damage. The good news is that John feels he is 95% recovered, the bad news is that he is at high risk for a second stroke.
We talked a lot about that risk. Remember that experts say that 80% of strokes can be prevented. There are uncontrollable risks such as genetic predisposition and heredity but there are life style and behavioral risks that are definitely controllable. John and I discussed the fact that he and many stroke survivors face what we call co-morbidities which is just a fancy healthcare way of saying you have more than one thing wrong with you. So for example, you may have Diabetes or A-Fib heart problems that make it more difficult to go to the gym on a regular basis. A study done in Europe and published in the British Medical Journal looked at which lifestyle factors have the most influence on stroke prevention and this study may give us some direction on how to manage our recovery to best prevent that next stroke. Looking at those with a genetic predisposition, the research found that smoking habits and whether or not they were overweight were the most critical lifestyle factors. We would add to that control of high blood pressure and we have a guide for health improvement even if you have other health issues that preclude exercise – no smoking and healthy eating of a balanced diet with suitable portions will help to keep you on the road to recovery.
The no smoking gets easier in our world these days where it is frowned on in most spaces even outdoors but over eating, huge portions and obesity are acceptable. Remember there is a reason we call it “morbidly obese”. Strokes are the leading cause of adult disability. John was lucky to get an early warning. Not all of us are that lucky.