( By Dr. S. R. Jindal )

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Stroke , like heart attacks, often occur with no prior warning and, like heart attacks, often kill. For just as atherosclerotic deposits in the arteries feeding the heart set the stage for heart attacks, such deposits in the arteries feeding the brain set the stage for cerebral strokes. And just as the affected part of the heart dies when its blood supply becomes blocked,so also the affected part of the brain dies when its blood supply is cut off by arterial blockage. As with the heart, this can only occur when the arteries have become hardened, narrowed and encrusted with Atherosclerosis.

Stroke is a neurological disorder due to a pathogenic process in the blood vessel. The delicate blood vessels of the brain may be damaged in several ways. With age, the arteries thicken, thereby losing their elasticity and lumen. Gradually this may lead to clot formation in the blood vessels, which obstructs the blood supply to the brain cells. Stroke is caused generally due to high blood pressure but there may be some other factors like tumour or clotted blood /defect in the blood vessels of the brain. High blood pressure is the single most important risk factor for stroke. When some of the symptoms are acute in condition, the patient becomes unconscious and as he recovers, he finds one half of his body or some parts have been affected by paralysis, and he may be unable to move his hand / leg or both on the affected side. He may find his speech slurred because of the damages done to the nerves of the facial muscles and tongue. If severe enough, death may occur.

With each passing year, more and more of the most respected medical organisations in the world have come to the same conclusion : Diet high in saturated fat and cholesterol raises, cholesterol level in the blood, produces Atherosclerosis and leads directly to heart disease and strokes. Diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol lowers its level in the blood, decreases Atherosclerosis, and lowers the likelihood of heart disease and strokes.

As a preventive measure one should have regular check-up and keep one’s weight, blood pressure, cholesterol level and blood sugar under control by proper diet / exercise programme. Follow "GUIDELINES FOR HEALTHY LIVING ". Salt is an enemy, if taken in excess. ( Salt in moderation is essential for survival, as evolutionarily, the life is derived from the sea which is salty.)

Tension and Stress

Tension in today’s world is as rampant as the common cold. It leads to hypertension and other diseases like heart attack, strokes, ulcers, asthma,pain at the back of the neck (spondylosis), shoulders and also lower backaches, migraines, insomnia, etc.

A certain amount of stress is desirable to give the required stimulation and motivation. Too much stress, however, affects our well being and health as enumerated above. It also affects our everyday performance and outward social behaviour adversely.Stress reduces the capacity to enjoy life. It makes one tired, lifeless and disinterested in things.

The causes of stress are many but the single most important cause is lack of proper rest due to overwork. Symptoms like increased tension,irritability and moodiness may appear, accompanied with lack of appetite and weight loss. If such signs of stress are noticed or are pointed out by well wishers, one must heed to it, otherwise there is a risk of stress increasing beyond control, leading to nervous breakdown.

But there are ways of combating this nuisance.Sleep and relaxation are important means of reducing stress. Billions of cells in our body get complete rest and are fully relaxed when we are asleep. Other methods of relaxation are through Yogic asanas and pranayama. Shavasana and Yoganidra are the best forms of relaxation.

Exercise is also a useful method of overcoming stress. It induces stress-coping abilities and tends to boost self-esteem. Psychologists have established that people with high feelings of self-esteem tend to be happy and well adjusted, apparently well equipped to deal with stress. Exercises chosen should be pleasing, such as games, swimming, brisk walk, Yoga and gymnasium.

Diet also plays an important role in fighting stress. Eat a soothing diet rich in lecithin such as banana, grapes, yoghurt, sprouts and soyabeans.Sprouts are wholesome food rich in all vitamins,minerals, enzymes, carbohydrates and light protein.

Above all, develop patient and learn to hold your temper. Whosoever loses temper, loses the case. Have a positive attitude at all times. Rest, relaxation,laughter and 7-8 hours of sound sleep are a must to combat tension /stress.

Sleep and Insomnia

Of all the different kinds of relaxations sought and discovered by man, sleep still remains the single-most guaranteed method of obtaining maximum and complete mental and physical rest for the body.

Sleep not only helps regain used up energies but also gives rest to the strained muscles and nerves.

The normal period of sleep required for a healthy human being is between 7-8 hours in a day.

God has bestowed night for sleep which is one of the most important necessities of life. There are billions of cells in our body and brain which require rest for relaxation and vitality. These cells, if not given enough rest, will tire themselves out and become less functional , thus creating various other complications. Proper and deep sleep is also essential for rejuvenation of the heart’s muscles that tire during the day’s hard work. The better you sleep, more the rest these cells and tissues get and they perform better by making the body more competent to resist the day long activities tirelessly. AN undisturbed sound sleep enhances the quality of sleep and hence its benefits.

There is no substitute for physical exercise, because exhausting the body in a controlled way relaxes the mind and is conducive to sound sleep in the natural way. Cross ventilation in the bedroom is also very important for ensuring sound sleep.

Insomnia means advance stage of sleeplessness wherein the more you try to sleep, the more sleepless you become.

A highly effective drug, the sleeping pill, given in the recommended dose will provide sleep but is often followed by various problems, as it forcibly sedates the nervous system. Hence, tranquillisers are not the answer to tension, worry and anxiety or sleeplessness or even insomnia. The answer lies in changing the habits and way of life which are responsible for these troubles.

Sleeplessness may be due to a number of reasons such as stress, anxiety, pre-occupation or any form of altered mental activity. A continued lack of sleep may also lead to depression, nervous disorders and cardiac complaints. This is the state of transient insomnia which last for a few nights. This may later on lead to chronic insomnia which is a serious disorder affecting normal behaviour and work performance. Measures for sound sleep before going to bed are :

  1. Take hot foot immersion for 15 minutes ( after drinking a glass of cold water) or warm water bath.
  2. Do deep breathing for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Resort to relaxation techniques like Yoganidra and meditation.
  4. Read light literature like magazines.
  5. Avoid heavy meal and late dinner.
  6. Take light supper three hours before going to bed.
  7. Stroll for a few minutes in open air after dinner.
  8. Do not make forced effort to sleep but relax.
  9. Drink a cup of hot water.

Apart from the above suggestions, the patient has to undergo Naturopathic treatments as suggested in the chart.

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