Nine out of ten stroke survivors would go back in time and urge their younger self to make lifestyle changes which may have prevented their stroke, a new UK-wide survey by the Stroke Association has revealed.
More than four out of five people surveyed in Scotland, say they hadn’t realised that they were at risk of a stroke. But nine out of ten had since made lifestyle changes.
Stroke is one of the leading causes of adult disability and the fourth biggest cause of death in the UK.
While some strokes are unavoidable, up to nine out of ten are linked to lifestyle and could be preventable if people are aware of the risks and able to make changes. Alexander Mackenzie, 61, from Edinburgh had his stroke in Feb 2020. He was told the stroke had almost definitely caused by high blood pressure. He said:
“The stroke affected the right hand side of my body. I couldn’t use my hand at all – it just ‘froze’, I couldn’t walk and my speech was slurred. I wasn’t able to write either. My speech gradually returned to normal within three to four months. It took two months before I could walk, but my sense of balance is still affected.
“I knew high blood pressure was something that needed to be watched, but I never suspected it was what had most likely caused my stroke.
“My lifestyle could have been better. Looking back, I drank too much – nearly every night. It interfered with my energy levels and mood – it wasn’t good at all. And now, having gone through the shock of a stroke, I have given up drinking completely and it’s had a major impact on my health. I sleep properly and make better use of my time. I am more optimistic about the future and believe there are exciting opportunities ahead.
I regret the amount I drank. My lifestyle was getting in the way of a good life and in a sense, my body ‘gave up’.
“I wouldn’t wish a stroke on anyone. It plays havoc with your life. Knowing what I do now, I wish I’d known just how important managing your blood pressure is and taking steps to reduce your risk of stroke.