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Hospitals see increase in cases of stroke during holiday period


Holiday parties have begun, and health professionals want you to think about what you are eating and drinking during the festivities to avoid a potentially fatal stroke.

“What we're seeing is that there is this measurable increase in in the risk of strokes, and not only that, but also just poor outcomes for patients that have strokes during the winter time,” explained physician George Dresser.

London Health Sciences Centre cautions against foods and activities that will increase your blood pressure.

“Over the holiday season, try to do those things that are going to really be helpful at lowering your own personal risk. The easiest one from a blood pressure standpoint, is just to be careful about salt intake.”

LHSC saw a 15 per cent increase in the number of stroke patients arriving at Victoria Hospital in the first six months of this year. A main contributor to stroke is hypertension, and eating food with less sodium and moderating alcohol intake are steps to improve blood pressure.

“A little bit of alcohol can increase the quality of experience in a very significant way. But moderation is key,” said Dresser.

Exercise is another way keep your blood pressure at bay, and it doesn’t have to be intensive. Instead of lying down on the couch after a big holiday meal, get outside, Dresser recommends.

“You could put on some nice warm clothes and go out for a walk," he said. "That's a'll still have a have a wonderful time with your family but you'll be doing something that's really healthy."

Hypertension occurs when blood pressure in the arteries rises, causing the heart to exert itself to pump blood into a person's blood vessels. It is estimated almost 30 per cent of hypertension can be attributed to excess dietary sodium, which is why Dresser is recommending the following:

  • Be aware of your blood pressure, get it checked at a pharmacy, doctor's office, or purchase a blood pressure monitor and check it at home
  • Exercise regularly
  • Reduce your sodium intake
  • Drink less alcohol
  • Cut back on caffeine
  • Eat more potassium-rich foods
  • Eat berries

Other contributing factors over the holidays is managing stress and expectations.

“All of those things in terms of managing stress are really important. Because it will have a beneficial effect on what your blood pressure's doing when you're in those situations,” said Dresser, who is also a member of the Hypertension Canadian Task Force. Top Stories

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