Lines are open Mon-Fri 08:00 - 18:00
So, how much do you know about stroke? Not much? Well that's why The Stroke Association marks an annual Action on Stroke Month, to raise awareness and to get people thinking about a condition that can have massive, often life-changing, effects on a person.
We all know about the ordinary causes and triggers of stroke, don't we? The usual suspects such as being overweight, smoking and drinking to excess are always present and always worth tackling, particularly if you have a family history that puts you at risk of developing health problems. But did you know there are other, more surprising, factors that have been linked with stroke risk?
Although we probably weren't expecting air pollution to be good for us, we undoubtedly wouldn't have specifically linked it to stroke risk either, and yet – according to a recent study – there is a connection. The research found that those living in highly polluted countries – who have more exposure to chemicals in the air - have a greater risk of stroke than those living in less polluted countries.
This is one of the odder ones, but apparently if you're a single man, then you're more likely to have a stroke. A study from Tel Aviv University found that men who married by 'midlife' were 64% less likely to die of a stroke than single men. The catch is that the marriage needs to be a happy one – men who reported that they were unhappy in their marriage were just as likely to die of stroke as their unmarried counterparts. Unlucky!
This is a perhaps the strangest addition to the list, simply because there's nothing a person could do about it. Some speculation has pointed to a higher average rate of diabetes and high blood pressure, but identifying definitive causes is always going to be difficult – perhaps most of all because, on an individual basis, diets, exercise regimes and lifestyles will vary from person to person, family to family, and place to place.
Depression is more than serious enough on its own, but it has also been linked with stroke risk in recent years. According to researchers from the University of Texas, positive attitudes and moods could be considered as protection against stroke. Happiness promotion is also often considered for other forms of health, and – a little like a placebo pill – even fake happiness can help. Of course, it isn't always as easy as just 'getting happy', and so if you are suffering with depression then the most important thing is that you go and get the help that you need.
Whether you or someone you know has had their life changed by stroke or not, it is worth knowing the signs, symptoms and - perhaps most importantly – risk factors. So make sure you are stroke-aware, and protect yourself where you can.