Prepare for a stroke or take action to prevent one?
“If you experience any neurological symptom that comes on suddenly and is unfamiliar (eg not like your normal migraine) then you should seek urgent medical advice. And take an Aspirin (unless you’re allergic to it).” That’s the advice today from Dr Mark Porter, writing in The Times about what to do in the event you think you’re suffering a stroke.
It’s good advice to keep a packet in your medicine cabinet, but did you know that it’s thought 91% of strokes are avoidable?
What is a stroke?
For the brain to function properly, it needs the oxygen and nutrients provided by the blood. Stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bursts or, more commonly, when a blockage develops which leaves the supply of the blood to the brain limited or completely obstructed and without treatment, cells in the brain quickly begin to die.
There are 3 different types of stroke:
- Ischaemic Stroke
- Haemorrhagic Stroke
- Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA)
Avoidable risk factors
Research was carried out by McMaster University Canada – it compared the lifestyles of people who had a stroke with those who had not, involving nearly 27,000 participants from 32 countries. It found that 9 out of 10 strokes worldwide could be caused by risk factors – many of which can be avoided:
- Lowering blood pressure
- Eating healthily
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Preventing diabetes
- Lowering cholesterol
- Cutting down on alcohol
- Stopping smoking
- Lowering stress
- Taking preventive medication for any heart arrhythmia
The most important modifiable risk is high blood pressure, increasing the risk by 47.9%, which is why it’s the key target across the world for reducing strokes.
Randox Health can help
Randox Health clinics offer you personalised preventive health programmes that provide a full profile of your entire body’s health, including diabetes health, lung health, liver health, heart health and many more areas. Upon receiving your results, you are given a programme to follow to help improve any areas of your health which are not ‘in the green’ on our scale. This helps you to prevent future illnesses and any unwanted surprises such as a stroke. We’ve helped over 3000 people in our clinics to date – book your test today.
Cholesterol is a fatty substance also known as a lipid. It is made by the liver but can also be found in some foods. It is essential to let the body function normally. You will be sad to hear that high levels can increase your risk of serious health conditions. There are two main types; high-density lipoproteins (HDL) and low-density lipoproteins (LDL). HDL is known as good cholesterol. It carries cholesterol back to the liver, where it is broken down. LDL on the other hand carries cholesterol to the cells however if there is a surplus it can build up in the artery walls increasing the chances of a heart attack or stroke occurring.
Here are some scary facts about cholesterol…
- You can’t live without it – Cholesterol has been in your body since the day you were born. It is a building block for all cells. Not only that but all of our cells and hormones need it to function properly…unfortunately you are very unlikely to find good cholesterol in your typical trick-or-treat offerings.
- Not all patients on cholesterol-lowering medication respond optimally to it – In the recent past, aspirin (a drug used to reduce levels) was prescribed for people who had a perceived risk of a heart attack. However aspirin does not always work; up to 30% of patients could have a below optimum response to the drug and therefore be at a considerably increased risk of a recurrent cardiovascular event. This is may also be referred to as “aspirin resistance”.
- One third of adults have high cholesterol – Testing is advised every 5 years to monitor your levels to see any changes. To get the most accurate results tests should be carried out one week apart, however most testing facilities won’t follow this.
- High levels could be down to genetics – Diet you can change, genes you can’t! If your family has a history of high cholesterol then you are likely to have it as well. It has been suggested that 75% of cholesterol is due to genetics and the remaining 25% is down to diet and lifestyle choices.
- Women’s levels will fluctuate over their lifespan – Did you know that ladies? During the average woman’s lifespan, cholesterol levels will rise and fall due to pregnancy and menopause. During pregnancy levels will rise in order to help the baby develop. After birth the mother’s levels should return to normal however after menopause a woman’s LDL levels will rise to that higher of a man’s.
However it is not all doom and gloom this Halloween! Randox are here to treat you to a vast range of specialised blood tests to allow the most accurate diagnosis of cholesterol levels, allowing you to gauge how many sweets you can sneak in this Halloween! We offer a large array of routine and niche tests. The most popular and widely tested are HDL, LDL, total cholesterol and triglycerides. Some further risk assessment cholesterol tests which are not routinely run include sLDL, HDL3, Lp(a). These cholesterol biomarkers are also affected by the usual risk factors such as age, weight, smoking, etc.; however they can also be a result of one’s genes. As mentioned before aspirin resistance is a big problem affecting up to 30% of all patients on aspirin therapy. However Randox offer the TxBCardio™ test which is a unique test to diagnose and assess the effectiveness of aspirin therapy.
From all of us here at Randox we wish you a safe and happy Halloween!
For health professionals
Randox Laboratories manufacture a wide range of routine and niche biochemistry reagents suitable for both research and clinical use. These include a wide variety of automated routine and niche cardiac tests and our new HDL3-C assay. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.