According to brain foundation Australia, stroke is the third most common cause of death in Australia and a leading cause of disability.
In an interview with SBS Filipino's Healthy Pinoy segment, Dr Earl Pantillano says that stroke happens when blood cannot get to the brain because of a blocked or burst artery. As a result, the brain cells die due to a lack of oxygen and nutrients.
Who's at risk
While stroke can happen to anyone of any age, he adds that people who are most susceptible to stroke are those who have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, family history of stroke, those who are overweight, and those who are smoking and drinking.
Monitoring blood levels
Having too much cholesterol in the blood can cause fatty deposits to build up in the arteries and can also increase the chance of a blood clot developing. On the other hand, a high blood pressure can increase the risk of stroke in both men and women.
Dr Pantillano says that monitoring blood pressure and cholesterol levels may help prevent a stroke.
"It depends on your family history. If anyone from your family has a stroke history as early as under 40 years of age, get your bloods tested at least 10 years from that so you know your base line. If you don't have any family history, at least by the age of 40, start regular blood tests every 2 years.
Stroke is preventable with lifestyle changes
Dr Pantillano says that the best way to help prevent a stroke is to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and avoid smoking and drinking too much alcohol.
"If you have been diagnosed with a high cholesterol and lifestyle changes do not improve your health, maybe you will need to take cholesterol tablets [depending on your GP's advice]."
Diet and Exercise
Dr Pantillano says that one shoud ensure he is eating a balanced diet, avoiding foods that are high in salt.
"We Filipinos love salty food. Avoid salty food. Have it in moderation."
He adds that combining a healthy diet with regular exercise is the best way to maintain a healthy weight because regular exercise can help lower the cholesterol and keep blood pressure healthy.