Eating more fruit and vegetable can prevent stroke, twenty co-ordinates studies find.
Twenty studies spanning several decades, and countries, designed to get a better understanding of the relationship between stroke risk, and plants in the diet, finally comes to fruition.
Examining a total of 16.981 strokes among 760.629 participants, it was found that those who ate the most fruit and vegetables were less likely to have a stroke and the benefits rose for every 200 gram per day of fruit and veg they ate, with fruit being 3X as beneficial as vegetables.
Stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability in the UK and USA. In the UK the number of victims range around 116,200 a year and in the US a staggering 795,000. Many die, others are severely disabled and need constant care.
Diet is key both in prevention and recovery. Quality fruit and vegetables and a diet low in processed food could save lives.
We should talk about this.
Nick, the man wearing a hat in the photo above suffered a stroke in 2009, is still recovering.
Here is his story:
It All Happened On Thursday, The 26th November 2009
And so it happened that on Thursday, the 26th of November 2009 that I realised what the last 58 years were all about.
I had been working in Brightlingsea on the Essex coast and was driving home back down to Suffolk. I had just driven around Colchester using various ‘rat runs’ when I turned onto the main Colchester to Sudbury road ( A134) at Great Horkesley, just north of Britain’s Oldest Chartered Town, when I suddenly started feeling tired and really had to concentrate on driving. The feeling was a cross between having a hangover from the night before ( I hadn’t had an alcoholic drink for at least two days ) and just feeling terribly tired all of a sudden.
Anyway the car started to feel very sensitive and the headlights of the oncoming traffic was becoming slightly blurred. So much so that I kept saying to myself ‘I must get home’.
I drove on for a few miles further, crossing the county border at Nayland, and still feeling, shall we say, strange. I reached a well known local lay-by just outside Leavenheath where I pulled in, stopped the car, opened the window to let in some fresh air and turned the engine off.
I even parked the car in such a way as to have the wheels pointing the car away from the road.
As I breathed in some fresh air and yet still didn’t feel any better I noticed that my left leg had ‘gone to sleep’, as indeed my left arm too was beginning to do.
It began to occur to me that I could be having a stroke.
Remembering my own mother’s experience of having a stroke, I started to ‘sound check’ myself saying ‘One Two Three Four’ and being a great fan of the rock band Foreigner continued with: ‘Check One, One, One.’ After which I thought to myself ‘I am not feeling right and I’m in trouble. I must call someone’.
Ordinarily one would call 999 but I felt that my family should know and besides, how long might it be before I lose my power of speech and become incomprehensible?
I had to call my son, Charlie. He was at the time working as a deputy manager at the Angel Hotel in Bury St Edmunds. ‘Call Charlie’ I repeated to myself as I fumbled for my mobile phone which I found hidden in my shirt breast pocket. I couldn’t read the screen!
Undeterred, I managed to press the keys to get C and then H to bring up the word ‘Charlie’, the shape of which I recognised and without delay I pressed the ‘Call’ button.
As luck would have it, I got through to him. Whereupon I asked him to get me an ambulance, telling him where I was, and why I wanted one. He said ‘Just stay there, Dad. I’m on the case, and stay where you are.’ I replied saying, that I wasn’t planning on going anywhere.
Whilst waiting for the ambulance, as by this time my paralysis was worsening I undid my seat belt and moved the steering wheel to the ‘up’ position, in order to give the paramedics better access so they could haul me out of the car, good thing I did as by now I couldn’t move my left side. The ambulance arrived quickly and forty minutes after making the call to Charlie, I was in A & E at Colchester General Hospital, with the Stroke Unit team ready to work on me.
A friendly and strangely familiar face appeared in nursing uniform and she said “ I know you. You’re Nick, aren’t you?” I nodded. Do you know who I am?” Being conscious throughout, I immediately recognised her and said ‘Mmmmmmmmmmoira’. Moira replied “ Yes, that’s right,?” “ Yeeeeesss” I said, making a long stretched slurring sound as my speech was, deteriorating. I should point out that Moira is the wife of a good friend of mine.
To be paralysed down one side of your body including your face and to lose the power of speech is one thing, but to the sight of two of your children looking down at you with looks that said that they feared the worst might happen, was I have to say, a very frightening experience and one I would prefer not to repeat.
Fortunately, their mother, Clare, was there too ( we have been divorced for may years but have remained good friends) and she helped me to make some decisions which on my own I would otherwise have found difficult to comprehend, and for which I shall be eternally grateful.
I digress -“Right, Nick, you have had a stroke, we need to see what sort.” I was told by the team. I then had had a CT scan to ascertain the type of damage, i.e. blood clot or bleed. I come back from the scan. “Well, Nick, we have good news and bad news. The bad news is that yes you have had a stroke”, the strength of which I found out later was, on a stroke Richter scale of 1 to 10, a formidable 8. “The good news is that it is a clot and because we have you in nice and early, we can give you the Clot Buster, or to give it its proper name, Thrombolysis.” Without which, I might add, the outcome of my recovery could have been very different.
Without question the Thrombolising procedure saved me. It is a very simple procedure that involved being injected with a natural enzyme, one of the properties of which is to be able to disperse blood clots. Today they no longer use enzymes, having developed a chemical substitute. I must point out that this procedure has to be carried out now within four and a half hours of a stroke occurring, and so therefore it is essential, nay vital, that the time at which a stroke occurs must be noted, otherwise the procedure cannot be undertaken, or so I understand. A ‘bleed’ I gather requires a different treatment.
Once thrombolised, I was then taken to my room where I slept. Mind you, I should say that one is monitored very closely, and frequently, especially in the first few days. I was woken up in the middle of the night to have the ‘interrogator’s’ torch shone into my eyes while my vital signs were being checked, rather like Michael Caine’s character, Harry Palmer, in the film ‘The Ipcress File’.
Anyway the following morning I woke up to find that I could once more move both my left leg and arm, not quite with the same dexterity as before, but move nonetheless. Furthermore my face didn’t feel as though it had just been subjected somewhat excessively to the dentist’s syringe and, yes, I could talk. Oh boy, could I talk. Blag City or what!
And so it is, with enormous gratitude, that I would like to say a big ‘thank you’ to all the team at the Stroke Unit, Colchester General Hospital, without whose care and professionalism, I, most likely, would not be writing this now. Without doubt they not only saved my life, but they have also helped me to reclaim some semblance of quality of life and, in so doing, with that foundation of improvement to work with, I am slowly regaining my strength and confidence in my abilities.
I am not sure at this stage as to where and how this journey will evolve. What I do know is that I am making good progress, because perseverance is the name of the game, and with compassionate encouragement from loved ones, family and friends, considerable progress can be made.
Setting new goals for oneself all the time, nothing too outrageous, but enough to be attainable keeps you moving in the right direction. As my doctor, Mark Hainsworth, said, setting goals is one thing, achieving them is quite another. For example I do not think that I shall be entering the London Marathon just now. But who knows, in years to come, perhaps something else. I have climbed mountain ranges of life before, and now I must climb another one. However, in the process, it gives me the time to reflect upon my life and record it.
Since I was discharged from hospital on 3rd December 2009 I started taking in the simple things of life and re-learning how to do many things. From early on I said to myself that I must get outside every day and walk. So initially with the help of my eldest son, Richard, I started walking, aided with a stick, into the village every day. With increased confidence I began to do this on my own every day and soon without the walking stick, although I would take it with me in case I needed some immediate support. It gets me out of the apartment and very often I would bump into friends in the village and we would stop to chat. I have since now progressed to include in my visiting expeditions not only the village shop and Post Office but the butcher which is slightly further afield, so that at least I can go ‘hunting’.
As a reward I stop off on the way home at the White Hart for a much deserved cup of coffee, which I now have with sweeteners and not sugar. Talking of which, I have now not only changed my diet, but I have also finally quit smoking, and lost a little weight to boot, which I did put back on. Anyway I digress.
It is vital that one keeps active, both physically and mentally. It’s all part of one’s therapy. It would be all too easy otherwise to let someone else do it all for you, besides which if you sat on your arse all the time doing nothing, your muscles would start to atrophy and your body would not repair itself from the stroke as well as it might, which is not good. That said, I do have someone come in every so often to do some cleaning. Getting showered and dressed in the morning does take a little longer now than before, as I try to reach those bits that others can’t, probably, which are more difficult to get at now, but hey, we get there in the end.
After being discharged from hospital, I joined a local stroke support group in Sudbury, namely Success After Stroke, to which I have been attending once a week ever since. We do group physiotherapy and we have guest speakers.
There is a tremendous sense of camaraderie here, as we are all dealing with similar things. I was also referred to Suffolk’s best kept secret, Icanho. Based in Stowmarket, Icanho is arguably the best rehabilitation centre in the country for brain injury and stroke. They showed me the way to improve myself. My walking improved, as did the use of my left arm and hand to the point that today I can once more play my piano keyboard with both hands. I am now involved with two working committees at Icanho to raise money and also to represent the views of the Users.
I have up until recently also been a governor at Colchester Hospital, which whilst I found supremely interesting, I found that I was having trouble ‘keeping up’. One must be aware of one’s limitations.
At the end of the day, the important thing is to remain positive and do stuff to the best of one’s ability, regardless of the activity involved.
And finally remember this, namely F.A.S.T. . FAST is an acronym for Face, Arm, Speech, Time. If you, or someone you are with, starts exhibiting symptoms such as their FACE falling on one side, or their inability to smile; their inability to raise both ARMS and keep them there; their slurred SPEECH; then it is TIME to call 999. Get them or, as in my case, yourself sorted. And try remember the time at which the stroke occurs.