What are the underlying medical problems in stroke survivors?
Stroke survivors have something in common. More often than not, they have a history of diabetes mellitus, hypertension, elevated blood lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides) and being overweight.
Elevation of blood lipids
If we do a retrospective study of all patients who suffered from stroke, almost all of them will have a history of elevated blood cholesterol and/or triglycerides. If a person has elevated cholesterol level in the blood, s/he is a good candidate for heart and blood vessel diseases. The risk will be doubled if, at the same time, s/he has elevated triglyceride level. The reason for this is that cholesterol and triglycerides promote the deposition of the so-called atheroscleroticplaques in the large and small arteries that will eventually block—partially or totally—the opening of the said blood vessels. When the deposits of plaques have been significant, the blood vessels become inelastic, and the blood pressure ultimately rises.
Elevation of blood sugar in diabetes mellitus
In diabetes mellitus, the quantity of insulin which is responsible for the burning and use of glucose is low, if not inadequate. In some diabetics, the quantity of insulin is adequate; however, the quality is poor. Thus, the glucose in the blood rises. If the elevated blood glucose is not controlled for years and years, spanning decades, it will lead to the clogging of the small and large arteries and damage of the kidneys, ultimately leading to hypertension.
If a person is overweight, s/he is prone to develop hypertension. Thus, overweight people are encouraged to lose weight either by physical exercise or by dietary modifications.
What is the common consequence of elevated blood lipids, diabetes mellitus, and being overweight?
They all lead to the development of hypertension, which could cause the rupture of small blood vessels in the brain, leading to stroke.
What does physical exercise do to would-be stroke victims and the stroke survivors?
With regular and consistent physical exercises, the following will be achieved to prevent the occurrence and recurrence of stroke:
- The blood lipid levels—cholesterol and triglycerides—will go down, thus preventing the deposition of lipid plaquesin the heart and blood vessels;
- It will lower the blood level of the low-density lipoprotein(LDL) which is considered as the “bad cholesterol” since it promotes the deposition of lipid plaques;
- It will increase the blood level of the high-density lipoprotein(HDL) which is considered as the “good cholesterol” since it prevents the deposition of lipid plaques;
- It will improve the competence of insulin in promoting the burning and use of glucose, thus lowering the blood glucose level;
- It will reduce the amount of fats stored in the different organs of the body;
- It will promote the reduction of body weight;
- It will reduce the level of the so-called C-reactive protein which, to a large degree, serves as an index of inflammation in the body.
All of the above will prevent the gradual elevation of blood pressure; therefore, in the long run, it will also prevent the occurrence and recurrence of stroke.
Among stroke survivors, the most common problem that they experience is the weakness of the lower and upper extremities; thus, the introduction of physical exercises as part of their daily living will be done in a unique and different manner.This will be the concern of the ensuing article(s).