Diabetes and Stroke

With approximately 2 million people in the UK alone being diagnosed with diabetes, figures suggest that those who have developed the condition are at greater risk of suffering from a stroke at some stage.

Aside from this fact, a diabetes sufferer is also more likely to have a stroke earlier in life.

It is important to remember that even though there are links between diabetes and stroke, and the odds of this happening are increased, it doesn’t mean that it will happen.

This article is designed to provide more information so that action can be taken to prevent the risks of severe health problems occurring, either now or in future.

Different types of stroke

If a person has a stroke then one part of the diagnosis process involves establishing the type that had occurred. To get a better idea of what these are, check out the list below for more details:

  • Haemorrhagic stroke – perhaps one of the most severe forms, it is caused when one or more blood vessels bursts.
  • “Mini-stroke, also known as TIA” Transient ischemic attack – a TIA is often referred to as mini-stroke because the problems associated with it only tend to last for a short time.
  • Ischaemic stroke – this particular form happens when the blood supply is interrupted, something that happens when there is a blockage within the vessels.

What are the symptoms of a stroke?

If anyone suspects that someone has suffered from a stroke then it will be essential to seek medical advice as a matter of urgency. To help everyone gain a better understanding of strokes, these are the main symptoms to look for:

  • Getting confused / having problems with speech – such as slurring
  • Feelings of weakness or numbness – this could be experience in areas like the face, arms or legs and will usually only affect one side of the body
  • Having trouble walking or remaining upright
  • Problems with vision
  • Headache

Apart from the signs listed above, there are a number of tests that can be conducted from home to find out if a stroke might be a definite possibility. Give these a try:

  • As confusion is a common problem, try and get answers to a few simple questions. If this cannot be done satisfactorily then this could be a sign of stroke.
  • Is the person experiencing numbness that remains for more than a few minutes?
  • Can the individual walk without stumbling?

Never use these tests as a way of self diagnosing, but use them merely as a way to help establish if someone may have suffered from a stroke. Still seek medical advice and inform them of any findings.

Fact: Should any of these symptoms occur then quick action will be required and it has been said that if medical attention is received as soon as the symptoms arise then the chance of recovery is greater. The longer the problem is left, there is a higher chance of lasting damage.

What are the risk factors of a stroke?

Knowing what the risk factors of a stroke might be is essential because this is a time where measures can be taken to prevent this happening, either now or in the future.

These are just a few of the problems that can lead to a person having a stroke:

  • Anyone over the age of 55 is at greater risk 
  • Being overweight, but some experts suggests those who are “apple shaped” could be at greater risk of suffering from a stroke, however anyone that is considered obese falls into this category
  • High blood pressure

There are other factors that can lead to a person having a stroke, such as smoking and having higher than normal cholesterol levels. However, don’t despair because there is good news.

How can the risks be avoided?

When it comes to the association with diabetes and stroke, knowing how to reduce the risks as much as possible will help safeguard anyone against having either diabetes related complications, a stroke or maybe even both.

These are just a few ways that the chances of a stroke can be significantly reduced:

  • Regular exercise doesn’t only help keep weight under control, it can also make blood sugar levels easier to maintain and work at reducing cholesterol and blood pressure. 30 minutes per day is recommended and this could include walking, swimming or jogging
  • Smoking is something that may cause all sorts of problems and as it could narrow the blood vessels, blockages might occur as a result of build-ups
  • Having a balanced and healthy diet. By eating plenty of fruits and vegetables this will ensure that the body is getting essential vitamins and minerals
  • Start limiting the amount of alcohol that is consumed
  • Limit the amount of salt intake

By making a few lifestyle changes, this is something which can avoid any diabetes related health problems in future. Should it be required then a dietician will be able to provide further guidance on what can and cannot be consumed.

Diagnosing a stroke

If a stroke was suspected and the relevant medical attention had been received then it is important to work at diagnosing a stroke. There are a number of methods that might be used and they could include any of the following:

  • MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging) scan
  • CT (computed tomography) scan

These two scans focus on the brain and looks for the extent of problems, in terms of the type of stroke suffered.

Other investigations might include x-rays and blood chests, as well as echocardiogram. Checking out any potential issues with the heart is vital because it is usually an underlying problem like this that can bring on a stroke.

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