By Daphne Clarance: Diabetes and hypertension are among the highest risk factors for causing a stroke.
"People with diabetes tend to develop heart disease or have a stroke at an earlier age than people without it," according to Dr Jyoti Bala Sharma, Director of Neurology, Fortis Hospital, Noida. In fact, she adds that diabetic patients are twice more likely to have a stroke.
There are several risk factors associated with brain stroke. While there are genetic reasons for it, there are some lifestyle changes a diabetic patient can adopt to ensure there's a lower risk of stroke.
A stroke happens when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted. It means there is a loss of brain cells or the brain tissue gets damaged. A blood clot often blocks the blood vessels in the brain or the neck.
HOW DIABETES INCREASES RISK OF STROKE
Most of the food we eat is broken down into glucose to give us energy. "Glucose enters a person's bloodstream and travels to cells throughout the body after food is digested. For glucose to enter cells and provide energy, it needs a hormone called insulin. The pancreas is responsible for producing this insulin in the right amounts," shares Dr Sharma.
In people who have type 1 diabetes (formerly called juvenile diabetes), the pancreas does not make insulin. In people who have type 2 diabetes, the pancreas makes too little insulin, or muscles, the liver and fat do not use insulin in the right way.
"As a result, people with untreated diabetes accumulate too much glucose in their blood, and their cells don't receive enough energy. Over time, excessive blood glucose can result in increased fatty deposits or clots in blood vessels," she adds.
HBA1C test: This test shows your average blood glucose levels for the past three months. The test should be performed two to four times a year. Keep it below 7%.
Blood pressure: The blood pressure goal for most people with diabetes is below 140/90mm Hg.
Cholesterol: Studies suggest the ideal total cholesterol should be 150 mg/dL, and about 100 mg/dL for low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C, also known as "bad" cholesterol). Diabetes tends to lower "good" cholesterol levels and raise triglyceride and "bad" cholesterol levels.
Don't smoke or vape: Smoking puts individuals, even if they don't have diabetes, at higher risk for heart disease and stroke. Quitting smoking improves your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. It also ensures better blood circulation while giving a person an easier time being physically active.
Healthy diet: Dr Sharma advises eating at least 14 grams of fibre daily for every 1,000 calories consumed. "Eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Keep cholesterol down to 300 milligrams a day," she adds.
Body weight: Make sure to maintain a suitable body weight. "A waist measurement of 35 inches or more for women or 40 inches or more for men raises the risk for diabetes," cautions Dr Sharma.
Exercise daily: Even a brisk walk, swim, or yard work, can improve your health and may reduce your stroke risk.
Alcohol consumption: This means no more than one drink a day for women, and no more than two drinks a day for men.
Manage stress: "Your mind deserves better than to be loaded down with the never-ending job of worrying," she says. Stress is already a risk factor for several diseases. Managing it is vital for the longevity of your health.