Dr Biodun Ogungbo, a Neurosurgeon based in Abuja, on Thursday recommended exercise as a preventive mechanism against stroke.
Ogungbo told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that exercise was the only way to prevent stroke.
According to him, it is cheaper to prevent stroke than to treat a stroke.
The expert therefore advised Nigerians to exercise to prevent stroke.
“Stroke is a problem that occurs in the brain. It occurs when there is no blood supply to a part of the brain which makes that part of the brain suffer.
“It means therefore that whatever functions that part of the brain does, stop. If for example, it is the part of that brain that supplies eyesight, or to do with hearing or moving the arm or legs or speech.
“If there is no blood supply to that part of the brain, then, that part of the brain becomes injured. It means it stops functioning. That is essentially what stroke is,’’ said Ogungbo.
He said the individual may therefore go blind, deaf or have weakness of an arm, leg or both.
Ogungbo noted that stroke was common in the country, saying most Nigerians know little about or appreciate the magnitude of the problem.
“Misconceptions and myths surrounding stroke must be debunked. The key fact is that every Nigerian knows or is aware of somebody who has suffered a stroke, either it is in the family or is in the neighbourhood or heard.
“The major risk factor for stroke in Nigeria is hypertension or high blood pressure. Other conditions such as diabetes, obesity, smoking, sickle cell disease are also risk factors for stroke.
“Even just being black, Nigerians, Africans, black people in general, predisposes us to stroke. Stroke is also a condition that can run in families,” he said.
Ogungbo also advised Nigerians to be careful of ‘mini’ stroke, saying that if a stroke had happened small before, then it is a warning sign to prevent a bigger one.
“Someone who has had a small stroke needs to go to hospital and not ignore it, and think because the stroke has gone away `my arm is now functioning; that is the end of the matter,’ it is often time not the end of the matter.
“What we teach is the acronym called FAST, which means Facial weakness, Arm weakness, problem in Speech and you need to Telephone or go to the hospital as quickly as possible.’’
The neurosurgeon listed the warning signs of stroke as weakness of the face, arm or leg, problem with speech, or difficulty in walking, sometimes sudden confusion and severe headache.
He, however, advised anyone with the signs to immediately visit the hospital.
“The best prevention of stroke is lifestyle; people who smoke must stop smoking. People who are alcoholic must stop drinking. People who are obese must lose weight.
“Those who do not exercise have to get out and exercise; to keep the heart working properly.
“Anybody who has been diagnosed as having hypertension must continue to do whatever they can to keep the blood pressure under control,’’ Ogungbo said.
He warned that hypertension could lead to stroke if not properly managed, adding that treatment of high blood pressure cannot be treated by pastors or imams or native medications.
He described hypertension as a silent killer, adding that it can be normal today and high the following day.
“Having a stroke also puts you at increased risk of developing other serious medical problems which can often lead to death in the immediate period following the stroke or several months after.
“Going to a hospital quickly after you have suffered a stroke can help your doctor prevent these serious medical problems and can make a difference in saving your life and how quickly you recover.
“So, stroke can be managed in the sense that we can help in preventing death, reducing the disability and also preventing another stroke,’’ Ogungbo said.