Are you vulnerable to a stroke and will diabetes increase your risk?

The short answer to this is yes.  A stroke is a brain attack which happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off, caused by a clot or bleeding in the brain. People with diabetes are 2 to 3 times more likely to have Stroke and Diabetesa stroke caused by a blockage, called an ischemic stroke, than people without the condition, according to research. However, the risk of having a stroke caused by bleeding in or around the brain known as a haemorrhagic stroke, this is probably similar to that of people who do not have diabetes. Diabetes is a condition caused by too much glucose in the blood. It affects over two million people in the UK. If not treated or controlled well, diabetes can increase your risk of stroke because high levels of glucose in the blood can damage your arteries, making them harder and narrower, called atherosclerosis. Diabetes also increases the risk of the build-up of fatty deposits in your arteries, which increases the chances of these blood vessels becoming blocked. If this happens in an artery leading to the brain, it could cause a stroke. The main risk factors are: –
  • If there is a family history of diabetes, particularly if a close relative such as a parent or sibling has the condition.
  • Your ethnicity. In the UK, type 2 diabetes is up to six times more common in people of South Asian descent and up to three times more common in people of African or African–Caribbean descent, compared with the general population.
  • Being overweight or obese. Type 2 diabetes is closely linked to excess weight. It is estimated that 80 per cent of people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are overweight. Being overweight reduces the body’s ability to respond to insulin. In particular if you carry extra weight around your waist (called central obesity) you are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Age – the risk of developing diabetes increases with age. If you are white and aged over 40, or if you are over 25 and are of African, African–Caribbean or Asian descent, you are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
  • If you have had diabetes during pregnancy and not needed to take medication. Your diabetes care team will advise and support you in making any necessary changes to your lifestyle.
A mini-stroke is the same as a stroke, except that the symptoms last for a short amount of time and no longer than 24 hours, after which people appear to return to normal. Symptoms associated with mini-strokes can include weakness or numbness on one side of the body, loss of vision or blurred vision in one or both eyes, memory loss, confusion or a sudden fall.   Reducing your risk of stroke It is important to keep close control over your blood glucose levels. You should also aim to keep your blood pressure as low as possible. Your blood pressure can be controlled by following a healthy lifestyle, but you may also need to take medication. Reducing your cholesterol levels can help reduce your risk of stroke, as well as other conditions such as heart disease. This means eating a diet that is low in saturated fat.  Control your weight as excess weight can raise your blood pressure, increase the strain on your heart and increase your risk of stroke. Don’t smoke as smoking damages blood vessels that may already be damaged as a result of diabetes. Smoking is also linked to higher blood pressure and drink alcohol in moderation. It is also important that we help ourselves by eating a healthy, balanced diet that is low in salt, fat and sugar and includes plenty of fruit and vegetables. We can also stay active as well as helping to reduce the blood pressure, regular physical activity can help to control your blood glucose levels, reduce cholesterol levels and maintain your overall fitness. A recent study in Canada says that eating tree nuts appears to help lower and stabilise blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes, according these include almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, coconuts, hazelnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, walnuts, pine nuts and pistachios. They do not include peanuts, which are legumes.