Northern Ireland news

Co Armagh man joins calls for people to make lifestyle change to reduce risk of stroke

A CO Armagh man has told how he had "to reassess what’s important in life" after suffering a stroke last year.

Noel Mitchell (57) has joined calls for people to make one small lifestyle change to reduce their risk of an attack.

Six months on from his stroke, the Lurgan man still lives with bad fatigue and problems with balance.

He is speaking out as a survey by the Stroke Association reveals nine out of 10 survivors would warn their younger self to change their lifestyle.

The charity also found that four out of five people questioned said they had not realised they were at risk.

The findings have been released to mark Stroke Prevention Day, with an appeal to people to make a change to their lifestyle to reduce a risk of stroke, which is the fourth biggest cause of death in the UK.

While some are unavoidable, nine out of 10 are linked to lifestyle and could be preventable if people were aware of risks and made changes.

The leading changes that survivors suggest is to reduce stress levels, monitor blood pressure, exercise and eat more healthily.

Mr Mitchell had a transient ischemic attack, also known as a mini or small stroke, in June after beginning to feel ill and disorientated.

"I was walking like a drunk man and I couldn’t seem to get my balance," he said.

"My left eye wouldn’t focus at all and the headache was awful. I decided to lie down and see if I could sleep it off. The next day my eyesight had returned to normal and I felt a bit better but I knew things were still not quite right.

"I eventually phoned my GP who arranged for tests at Craigavon Area Hospital just to be on the safe side. Lo and behold, a CT scan showed that I'd had a stroke."

He said he now makes a conscious effort to lower his stress levels.

"I now feel the need to reassess what’s important in life and I’m determined to watch out for my stress levels and make time to relax and take care of myself," he said.

"Before all this happened I enjoyed triathlons and running, swimming and canoeing, but all that’s been put on hold.

"My main priority now is to get well enough to get back to work, get on top of this fatigue and start doing some of the activities I enjoyed before."

Juliet Bouverie from the Stroke Association said: "Many people simply don’t realise they are at risk and that’s something that we as a charity desperately want to put right.

"The effects of a stroke can be life-changing for you and your family, so why not do all you can to avoid one yourself?

"However, we know that it isn't always easy, so pick something that’s manageable for you. Aim to stick with it for an initial three months and if you can do that you’re more likely to form a regular habit."

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