By Edi Csanalosi, Corporate Nutritionist
What are the facts?
- Cardiovascular disease causes more than 1 in 4 deaths in the UK (28% in men and 26% in women according to the latest statistics)
- In 2014, there were around 41,000 premature deaths from CVD in the UK
- Around 30% of the deaths caused by cardiovascular disease results from stroke in both men and women.
Looking only at healthcare costs grossly underestimates the total cost and burden of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the UK. Production losses from death and illness in those of working age contribute greatly to the overall financial burden.
The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) estimated the costs from lost work days from mortality and morbidity to be £3.9 billion and £151.6 million respectively. (1)
Prevention is KEY as strokes occur without ANY warning
The importance of prevention cannot be stressed enough.
There are no warning signs that would indicate a stroke – and once you suffer one, the damage can be disastrous.
Strokes can be explained as a “brain attack”, similarly to a heart attack; the only difference is that the blood clot blocks blood flow to your brain instead of your heart. If this happens, brain cells in the affected part of your brain begin to die because they’re not getting the oxygen they need. That can affect the way your body and mind work.
The longer the brain goes without oxygen, the greater the risk of lasting brain damage.
In order to be effective, you typically need to get treated within one hour. This is clearly one of the miracles of modern science, however it all goes to waste if one does not address the underlying conditions after the stroke. However, if you notice any of these signs of stroke, you should get help right away:
- Sudden trouble walking (dizziness, loss of balance, etc.)
- Sudden confusion
- Sudden numbness or weakness (especially on one side of your body only)
- Sudden trouble seeing
- Sudden severe headache (2)
What are the causes?
Coronary heart disease (angina and heart attack) and stroke can be caused by the same problem – atherosclerosis. This is when your arteries become narrowed by a gradual build-up of fatty material (called atheroma) within their walls.
If a piece of atheroma breaks away from one of your arteries it will lead to a blood clot forming.
- If the blood clot blocks an artery to your heart and cuts off the blood supply to your heart muscle, this is a heart attack.
- If the blood clot blocks an artery to your brain and cuts off the blood supply, this is an ischaemic stroke. (2)
How can we prevent a stroke?
Address Your Diet
Clearly, in the case of strokes (and most disease), prevention is your best option, and your diet plays a CRUCIAL role.
5 foods that have been linked to an increased risk of stroke:
- Red meat – although we can’t talk about all red meats with the same measure, there are huge differences between meat raised non-organically and organically-raised, grass-fed. Organic grass-fed beef is typically not associated with any of the health risks. To find out more about red meat, please see my fantastic team mate Edwina’s article here.
- Salt – Processed salt (regular table salt) used in processed foods should be avoided altogether. Unrefined natural salt on the other hand, such as Himalayan salt, can have a beneficial effect, as opposed to a disease-promoting one (3). Read mMore on salt in Sandrine’s blog post here.
- Trans-Fats – Any food containing trans fats should be avoided if you care about your health. This includes numerous processed foods, such as crackers, chips, most store-bought baked goods, and any fried foods, just to name a few examples. Trans fats are known to promote inflammation, which is a hallmark of most chronic and/or serious diseases; not just strokes and heart disease. (4)
- Diet Drinks – Research presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference (2010) showed that people who drink just one diet soda a day may increase their risk of stroke by 48 percent! (4)
- Smoked and Processed Meats – Certain preservatives, such as sodium nitrate and nitrite found in smoked and processed meats have been shown to damage your blood vessels, which could increase your risk of stroke. Furthermore, nitrates are frequently converted into nitrosamines, which are also clearly associated with an increased risk of certain cancers.
Here are some tips for meat-eating:
- Go for organic and grass-fed or free-range meats
- Choose uncured types that contain NO nitrates
- Choose meats where the label clearly states: 100% beef, 100% chicken, etc. This is the only way to know that the meat is from a single species and does not include byproducts
- Avoid any meat that contains MSG, high-fructose corn syrup, preservatives, artificial flavor or artificial colour(3).
Vitamin D Deficiency Increases Your Stroke Risk
According to research presented at the American Heart Association’s Annual Scientific Sessions in Chicago, IL in November 2010, low levels of vitamin D—the essential nutrient obtained from exposure to sunlight—doubles the risk of stroke in Caucasians(6).
Why not book our Heart Health Seminar and Arterial Health Assessment
SuperWellness offers a seminar called ‘Take Heart – 10 Measures That Will Reduce Cardiovascular Risk NOW’. The talk can be incorporated into our most popular programme, the 3 Month challenge; or as an individual seminar. We also offer Arterial Health Assessment, which you can read about here. We use the Vital Vision Device – which is a Class II Medical Equipment classified device. It determines the condition of the main arteries by measuring their elasticity, and tests for large artery stiffness, which is a key indicator of poor cardiovascular health. Once the test is performed – each person receives a detailed report with charts and data explaining their arterial health and biological age results. We also coach them with practical diet and lifestyle suggestions (heart healthy recipes included). Get in touch today, take heart, take part!
Edina Csanalosi Associate and Registered Nutritional Therapist
Edi is a naturopathic Nutritional Therapist and Functional Medicine Practitioner running a busy clinic in the City of London. Her mission is to help clients get to the root cause of their health issues. Edi believes in the healing power of food, herbs, thoughts, and deeds. She believes that we have the power within to make decisions, and take actions that will help us to draw forth a life state reflected by the maximum expression of our health, vitality and happiness.
During a 10 year career in banking Edi herself experienced adrenal fatigue and burn out, and so she is well aware of the challenges that come with today’s fast paced city work life.
Passionate about helping city employees in demanding, success-driven roles to perform at their best using natural means Edi takes a holistic approach to help people achieve great work life balance, to become healthy again, and to be and feel their best. Edi is currently studying at the Institute of Functional Medicine to be a fully certified functional medicine practitioner.
- British Heart Foundation, Cardiovascular Disease Statistics 2015
- BHF – https://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/conditions/stroke (accessed 07/05/2016)
- European Guidelines on cardiovascular disease prevention in clinical practice (version 2012) European Heart Journal Jul 2012, 33 (13) 1635-1701; DOI: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehs092
- American Heart Association, Total fat, trans fat linked to higher incidence of ischemic stroke,http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-02/aha-tft022410.php (accessed 12/05/2016)
- Mercola, If you eat processed meat, are you risking your life? (2011)http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/01/22/if-you-eat-processed-meats-youre-risking-your-life.aspx(accessed 12/05/2016)
- Vitamin D deficit doubles risk of stroke in whites, but not in blacks, study finds (Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, 2010) available: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101114161929.htm (accessed: 13/05/2016)