Doctor warns of risk of stroke when cold weather sets in – tips to stay safe
Stroke: CDC outlines the main signs and how to respond
Dr Naheed Ali said colder weather could put people at greater risk of ischaemic strokes.
There are two reasons for this increased risk of the life-threatening condition: blood pressure and blood clotting.
“The cold can cause blood vessels to constrict or narrow, which can lead to increased blood pressure,” warned Dr Ali.
High blood pressure is one risk factor for a stroke, which can lead to long-term disability or death.
Another factor that impacts stroke risk is the fact that “the blood’s tendency to clot can increase in colder conditions”.
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Dr Ali said: “This situation, known as hypercoagulation, prompts our bodies to try and dissolve these clots more quickly.
“But if clots form too rapidly or if someone’s blood vessels are compromised, these clots might obstruct pathways in the brain, leading to a stroke.”
Signs of a stroke
- Face changes: like one side drooping or feeling numb.
- Can’t lift their arms: struggling to lift one or both arms.
- Trouble talking: their speech might be slurred or they could find it hard to understand or be understood.
- Time is of the essence. If you notice any of these signs, seek medical help immediately.
How to minimise your risk of a stroke in the colder months
Dr Ali shared five pieces of advice to help prevent a stroke this winter.
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“Ditch the cigarettes,” Dr Ali said to smokers. “Smoking harms your blood vessels, making them more prone to blockages.”
Another piece of advice is to “go easy on the booze” for drinkers, as drinking alcohol can “lead to problems”.
It’s also key to stay active, said Dr Ali, who said: “A brisk walk or indoor workouts can promote good blood circulation.”
Dr Ali also advised to watch your weight by making sure you are a healthy weight.
“Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the workload on your heart and keep blood vessels in better condition,” he explained.
Also, it’s imperative you get your health checked on a regular basis by your doctor.
“Just as you’d prep your car for winter, ensure your health is in top condition,” said Dr Ali.
Dr Ali earned his MD degree in 2008 and later completed Harvard Medical School’s lifestyle medicine training in 2012 before obtaining a Ph.D. in holistic health. Now, Dr Ali, who has lectured on various biomedical topics at US colleges, is now the lead writer at Sleep Bubble.
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