Physical Activity and Exercise After Stroke

What is a stroke?

A stroke can happen to anyone at almost any time and occurs when blood flow to the brain is cut off or interrupted. This can happen either through a blockage (Ischaemic Stroke) by a clot or plaque or a burst (Hemorrhagic Stroke) in an artery. This interruption of blood supply leads to a deprivation of oxygen and other nutrients to the brain which kills the surrounding tissue.

Stroke is one of Australia's leading causes of death and disability, killing more women than breast cancer and more men than prostate cancer. In Australia, 1 in 6 people will experience a stroke with one new or recurring stroke every 9 minutes and 475,000 people are living with the ongoing effects.

Stroke is Preventable

Exercise and Stroke Risk

The risk of stroke is influenced by a number of factors. The most important of these risk factors can be lowered through a change in lifestyle, for example, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity and poor diet. The effect of exercise on stroke risk is multifactorial, however it has been shown to reduce your overall likelihood of stroke occurrence by between 20-30%. Along with other mechanisms, exercise aids in reducing obesity, hypertension, dyslipidemia as well as with the development of type 2 diabetes, all of which have strong implications for the development of a stroke. 

Exercise After Stroke

Physical ability and physical fitness can be greatly reduced after a stroke, leaving sufferers with reduced mobility, poor balance and decreased strength. Evidence suggests physical activity and strength training should be included in the rehabilitation process and improves overall health and quality of life.

National Stroke Week 

National Stroke Week will be held from Monday 4 to Sunday 10 September 2017. This National Stroke Week, the Stroke Foundation is aiming to ensure every Australian household has someone who knows the signs of stroke. 

The F.A.S.T test is an easy way to recognise and remember the signs of stroke. Using the F.A.S.T test involves asking these very simple questions:

  • Face - Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?
  • Arms - Can they lift both arms?
  • Speech - Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?         
  • Time - If you see any of the above signs, time to call 000

Time is critical in treating stroke. Paramedics, nurses and doctors can only help if you act FAST and dial 000 at the first sign of stroke. Stroke is always a medical emergency.  

For more information on how you can reduce your risk of stroke occurrence, contact an Exercise Physiologist at your Kieser centre today.

Article written and sourced by Allen Howell, Exercise Physiologist at Kieser Mont Albert

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