We take many things in life for granted such as our existence, our parents, friends, talents, skills, knowledge and even our ability to walk, talk and move. It doesn’t dawn on us that we are blessed to live with such great abilities amongst those who suffer from polio, vision loss, autism and more. All the more, we are used to asking for more and more never satisfied with what we have or how we live. It’s not only materialistic pleasures that take the front seat here but also our position, power and happiness go for a toss when we constantly lack the satisfaction and comforts provided by this life. But suddenly our outlook towards life and other things changes either due to a great loss in the form of our beloved one or in the form of health problems such as stroke or cancer. We are all happy and gay one moment in life but within minutes after stroke the brain is abducted of its skills and talents along with the ability to walk or move your hand-few of the things that have been taken for granted until now treated as though it’s the body’s duty to function appropriately for our survival.
Stroke happens when there is deficient blood flow to the brain due to which brain tissues are deprived of oxygen and nutrients. Stroke usually damages one side of the brain (motor fibers connected to movement is primarily affected) and affects the opposite side of the body. The individual’s balance is affected alongside muscle tone and control. Stroke can leave a person with debilitating side effects if emergency care is not provided immediately. You should be able to identify symptoms of stroke-FAST-to save a stroke-affected victim. Learn more about recognizing these symptoms in the shortest time period by visiting the website www.firsteatright.com.
Once the patient is stable enough, he/she is put onto rehabilitation programs that involve aerobic and strengthening exercises along with walking exercises that help in improving the overall health of the person. As stroke leaves one with weakened muscles the physician checks for such weaknesses that need to be resolved before moving on to exercises.
Walking involves a lot many muscles and movements that are involved in every single step that you take. Movement is the result of the brain instructing the muscles to move but once stroke attacks a person it’s the physician who moves the different muscles related to walking thereby instructing the brain to start movement. Walking, a simple chore until now has become a monumental task for the stroke-affected victim. He/she needs to master the tricks repeatedly to improve his/her mobility.
A new study has come up with a good piece of news that arm exercises can improve walking ability after months or years after suffering from a stroke. A group of researchers worked with older adults who suffered from a stroke between 7 months and 17 years prior to the study. The volunteers were part of three 30-minute, moderate-intensity arm cycling training sessions each week for 5 weeks. The research team measured the volunteers’ abilities before and after the arm exercises using measures such as: Six minute walk that measures how far a person can walk in six minutes, timed 10 meter walk that measures how quickly a person can cover 10 meters and timed up & go which measures how much time it takes to stand up from a seated position, walk 10 feet, turn around, walk back and sit down again. Results showed that:
FAST (Facial drooping, arm weakness, slurring speech) is the best way to identify stroke in both men and women. The faster you diagnose stroke greater are the chances of survival. Sadly, some symptoms of stroke are not so explicit in women and this can play a pivotal role in deciding the arrival of medical help which in turn determines her chances of survival.
FAST might be common to both the sexes but women experience subtler signs such as dizziness, nausea, fatigue, confusion, coordination problems, memory loss, behavioral changes and numbness in any part of the body that don’t require much thinking but the immediate attention of a physician to decide upon its cause.
Know Your Risk
Women are blessed with a longer lifespan naturally but this makes them vulnerable to stroke as the probability of the disease increases as the individual grows older. Though the overall percentage affected by stroke is pronounced among men more than 60% of the deaths occur in the women population. Despite such critical statistics not every woman realizes that she is twice likelier to suffer from problems due to stroke compared to the problems that she could suffer from breast cancer.
Experiences of a sudden headache, loss of speech, confusion, changes in the vision, dizziness or lack of balance are general signs of stroke in women apart from your face drooping and arm weakness. The sooner you identify these warning signs and start treatment for stroke the better it is for you to retain your brain functionalities.
Pregnancy initiates a serious of health complications in some women which might be due to their medical history, present body condition or so. The entire pregnancy period is like a stress test for a woman’s heart and blood vessels owing to superlative hormonal changes and weight imbalances. Nowadays stroke during pregnancy is more common than thought of and research indicates that almost 30 of 1,00,000 women experience stroke while being pregnant. Maximum risk periods are just before and after the child’s delivery. We are well-aware that many women suffer from gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, preeclampsia and even thyroid during their pregnancy period but not aware that stroke might play an equal role as well as a major complication during pregnancy. Pregnant women are almost thrice likelier to suffer from stroke compared to younger individuals.
A stroke during pregnancy is shocking, hurting, alarming and above all, sure to leave the pregnant mother, fetus and the family with long-lasting impacts. While we consider high BP or preeclampsia during pregnancy as a common occurrence, we are unaware that these effects can leave an even greater impact on the woman-in the form of stroke. With high blood pressure being christened as the leading risk factor for stroke one solely depends on living a healthy lifestyle, eating nutritious foods and staying stress-free to minimize the risk.
Another leading cause for stroke during pregnancy is blood clot. Blood clots are common during pregnancy and this is evident from swollen legs commonly seen in pregnant women (swelling reduces flow of blood to the legs). Pregnancy increases the secretion of one kind of substance that increases the likeliness of blood clot to help pregnant women avoid extreme bleeding while giving birth. But this increases the possibility of a stroke as well.
Ensuring Health During Pregnancy
Some problems are inevitable but it is best to take every precaution possible to avoid risk factors during/after pregnancy that can cause any complications.
It has almost become a cliché now to say that sitting down for longer periods of time is linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death. We are in sync with standing desks, walking meetings and exercise ball chairs which are small initiatives both from the employer’s as well as the employee’s side to minimize sedentary seating time at office and increase active time. There have been previous studies quoting that the effects of sitting negate the effects of exercising or being active through the rest of the day but sometime later we also had studies showing that standing too long sometimes surpasses the ill effects of sitting down. For more details on the disadvantages of standing for too much time visit www.firsteatright.com. Isn’t it so confusing to realize that neither sitting nor standing are any good for our health?
Life is a balance between many things and the quality of life depends on how well you manage these things and take them forward. We cannot change our job requirements nor throw away our desk jobs just because they increase our sedentary hours spent. After all, its our bread and butter for leading a good life. All that we can do is get around staying active and healthy by all other means. This includes going for a walk, playing some games, swimming, walking, jogging, dancing or likewise. While sitting does come with its own disadvantages a new study comes with this surprising fact that not all types of sitting are created equally.
The Sitting Bias
This study exactly involved 3,592 participants all of whom were Africans American. Each of the participants reported how much time they spent watching TV, They also reported spending time watching TV, sitting down to do work or doing much of exercise during the sedentary time. Results showed that participants who clocked maximum hours watching television (4 or more hours daily) and suffered from a 70% increased risk of cardiovascular events and death in comparison to those who watched minimal amount of television (less than 2 hours daily).
Despite the fact that you might be a crazy fan of television sitting in front of it for hours together without moving even to use the bathroom at work, most of us walk every now and then while at office during work and this is in every way better than sitting down with a tub of popcorns in hand. So, the combination of both, sitting together continuously for hours together and eating a large meal might be the deadliest combination. Watching television is not bad and it doesn’t mean that you are a couch potato. Take a small break from your series-watching spree, go for a walk or jog around to diminish the ill-effects of sitting. Remember, any type of exercise that gets the heart beating faster and the breathing harder is good for the body.
While the tactic seems good on most people there are some individuals such as truck drivers who cannot take a break while sitting and driving. But for those working in banks, IT companies and likewise it is recommended that you get up and take a break from your sitting schedule. Its been reported that performing moderate or vigorous physical activity such as walking, aerobic exercise and any sport reduce the risk of death, stroke or heart attack. When individuals followed this routine (engaged in these exercises) they did not face any increased risk of death, stroke or heart attack even when they watching TV for more than 4 hours a day. This study seems to be an eyeopener for many of those who are sedentary.
In an ideal world the rooster wakes us up with its bright cockadoodledoo and the birds chirp sweet tunes in our ears as they welcome sunshine with arms wide open. But we have destroyed both-the nature and the trees as well as disrupted the balance in ecosystem leading to a stage where finding a butterfly is a rare sight or a woodpecker in a tree is an amazing visual! I would like to quote a small episode that does prevail in many of our households everyday- the alarm is set at 5.30 AM in the morning with an intention of exercising for an hour before getting ready but our late-night binge-watching episodes do prevent us from getting up at the stipulated time and we hit the snooze button. For some, it might be once but some others don’t mind getting to hear it for another 3-4 times before getting out of bed. Finally, its almost 6.30 AM and all our hopes are deep down the trash. Monday mornings too land us in similar troubles where we force ourselves out of bed in the last minutes without any time to sip our hot cup of coffee or get ready leisurely spoiling all the pleasures in life. How exactly is that extra snooze time going to benefit us in some way? Actually, in no way at all and rather they are great troublemakers that put our life in a turmoil.
Body’s Own Alarm Clock
The alarm clock is an invention of mankind and the snooze button is more of a recent innovation that has the ability to spoil the health of every person using it. Don’t our parents and grandparents wake up on their own even before the sun rises but we keep contemplating on the perfect time to wake up until the last moment. Each of us have our own natural alarm clock (circadian rhythm) which puts us to sleep after sunset and wakes us up when the sun shines. But when this rhythm is disrupted due to our dependence on an external alarm clock the sleep cycle too gets disrupted. But, when your alarm rings and you hit the snooze button repeatedly your body is all the more confused preventing you from getting up feeling bright, rested and energetic. Maybe this is the reason why most of us get up early feeling exhausted and irritated even after sleeping through the night!
Snooze is not an enemy of just staying awake but also to sleep. We think that we would feel more fresher and eager to start the day after experiencing the extra 5 or 9 minutes of sleep (snooze) time but the fact is that we are more inclined to feeling stressed. It works hard on the heart, increases cortisol and adrenaline levels (these hormones wake us up) and disrupts our natural sleep cycle. While we feel great thinking about the extra 30 minutes of sleep time acquired through snooze practically, this time gain is worse than no sleep at all (https://psmag.com/social-justice/devil-snooze-button-sleeping-sleep-morning-68787). It confuses our natural body clock and puts us through short bouts of sleep that’s not restorative.
While early days people had a perfect circadian rhythm over the past couple of decades people sleep late but get up at the same time in the morning almost losing 45 minutes of sleep on working days. It’s no shocking news that sleep deprivation is a risk factor for obesity/overweight and it’s not just dependent on how much sleep you get but also on how much you have messed with your body’s circadian rhythm. Some studies show that this spike in weight ranges is due to the increased secretion of ghrelin (appetite) hormone and decreased secretion of leptin (satiety hormone). The body’s circadian rhythm is extremely essential for the well-being of individuals as it plays a central role in controlling body temperature, hormone secretion, blood pressure and regulates everyday activities of different organs in the body. So, for every 45 minutes of sleep lost daily some of us try to make up for the loss during weekends while some others keep carrying forward the loss until something hard strikes their health badly-the cortisol puts our body in a fight or flight mode, the sound of the alarm while deep in sleep jolters us out of sleep and stress levels are increased-this is an indication to our body that we have not fulfilled our required 7-8 hours of sleep for the day.
So, every nine minutes of extra sleep is not a gain to body but a loss on our productivity. Rather than taking sleep as a work of the lazy man, treat it as a requirement for renewed energy and productivity. Get yourself tuned with your body’s natural alarm clock which helps you ditch off the alarm clock, especially the snooze button that corrupts your mind into hitting it often desiring for an extra 10-20 minutes of sleep that can spoil your entire day sometimes. Take hold of sunshine as an indication to wake up, stop staying late up in the night, go to bed early, keep your bedroom sleep-friendly with dark lights, pleasant aroma and soothing music and finally, if required use an alarm clock and not your smartphone-firstly because, keeping a smartphone near your resting place is bad for health and secondly, the light from the phone emits radiations that don’t do good to our body when that’s the first thing that we see after waking up!
The Body’s Subconscious Alarm Clock: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/250015.stm
Your Alarm Clock might be Hazardous to Health: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/your-alarm-clock-may-be-hazardous-to-your-health-164620290/
Stop Snoozing: https://www.womenshealthmag.com/uk/health/sleep/a27652162/stop-snoozing/
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.