Exercise-induced stroke is a condition where individuals experience a sudden cerebrovascular event while engaging in sports or shortly after completing a workout session. This phenomenon is highly dangerous and can have severe implications on the patient’s health and well-being. It is crucial to equip oneself with sufficient knowledge to prevent and manage this issue effectively.
What is exercise-induced stroke?
The role of physical exercise in human health is paramount. Through regular exercise, the brain can enhance focus, boost cognitive function, and promote overall well-being. However, in recent years, there has been a rising number of hospital admissions for the treatment of exercise-induced strokes, causing significant concern and hesitancy in engaging in physical activities.
A stroke occurs when the blood vessels in the brain become blocked or rupture, leading to inadequate blood flow and oxygen supply to the brain. This can severely impact brain functions. If not promptly addressed, it can result in stroke and even fatality.
Specialists in the field categorize exercise-induced strokes into two main groups:
Group 1: Strokes that occur in individuals with pre-existing risk factors, such as cerebral aneurysms, myocarditis, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, etc. These conditions can lead to conditions like coronary artery disease, cerebral ischemia, acute cerebral hemorrhage, etc. Patients often lack awareness of their underlying health conditions, which contributes to a sense of shock and prolonged depressive states when a stroke occurs.
Group 2: Strokes occur when individuals push themselves beyond their physical limits during exercise. For instance, someone who can typically run 3 miles (5 kilometers) may attempt to increase their speed to 6 miles (10 kilometers). However, on a particular day, they might excessively push themselves and run 25 miles (40-50 kilometers), causing their bodies to be overwhelmed. This scenario is quite common and significantly raises the risk of fatal consequences due to cerebral artery rupture.
It is not only older individuals but also young athletes who can experience stroke when engaging in excessive physical training. Therefore, it is crucial to pay close attention to one’s health to avoid unpredictable repercussions.
Causes of Stroke During Exercise
There are various factors that contribute to individuals experiencing stroke after exercise. However, the main issue still lies in the person’s health condition, underlying diseases, age, and intensity of their training.
Here are the causes and risk factors that lead to stroke during or after exercise:
- Elderly individuals engaging in early morning exercise.
- Young individuals immediately taking a shower after intense physical activity.
- Exercising excessively without proper control of intensity.
- Having underlying conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, clotting disorders, or asthma.
- Frequently staying up late, having inadequate sleep.
- Poor and unbalanced diet, skipping meals, or lacking essential nutrients.
- Smoking, using stimulant substances, consuming excessive alcohol.
- Constantly experiencing stress, work pressure, and prolonged periods of stress.
Symptoms of Stroke After Exercise
The symptoms of stroke during sports or exercise are quite evident. However, since they often occur unexpectedly and suddenly, both the patient and those around them are usually unprepared. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the following signs in order to promptly detect and treat the condition.
- During physical activity, sudden onset of headaches, difficulty in movement, and instability.
- Seeing flashes of light, dizziness, decreased visual acuity, and poor vision.
- Numbness in the arms or legs, and stiffness in facial muscles.
- These are indications that you may be experiencing a stroke. If not detected and managed promptly, patients may face various dangerous complications.
How to Handle Stroke After Exercise?
Based on the signs of stroke in each individual, we will have different approaches to handle the situation.
For Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA):
This condition can occur rapidly and then subside, causing many people to underestimate its seriousness. However, patients should not be complacent as a stroke can still happen at any time.
Recognizing signs: Blurred vision, dizziness, headache, neck stiffness, nausea, double vision, collapsing, etc.
- If the patient can still move their limbs, speak, and has not lost consciousness, they should rest for a while.
- During that time, quickly find transportation to take the patient to the nearest hospital for emergency treatment.
Treating Severe Ischemic Stroke:
Patients who experience a severe stroke during sports require prompt first aid and emergency treatment. Missing the “golden period” for brain rescue can directly affect the patient’s life and recovery.
Recognizing signs: Sudden numbness or weakness in the limbs, symptoms may occur on one side of the body, sudden facial drooping, dizziness, inability to speak, slurred speech, nonsense speech, loss of vision, severe headache, etc.
- Call for emergency assistance to transport the patient to a medical facility as soon as possible.
- During the waiting time for the ambulance, administer first aid to ensure the patient’s safety.
- Keep the patient’s surroundings well-ventilated for proper breathing.
- Place the patient on a flat surface with the head and back inclined about 45 degrees to the body.
- Do not attempt acupuncture, acupressure, or blowing air on the patient.
- Do not give the patient anything to eat or drink, including water or medication, as it may cause choking and obstruct the airway.
- If the patient stops breathing and there is no pulse, perform external chest compression at a rate of 80-100 compressions per minute until the heartbeat resumes.
Preventing Stroke After Exercise
In fact, we can actively prevent the occurrence of stroke after exercise by establishing a proper training and rest regimen. Here are some specific measures:
- Maintain an appropriate exercise intensity during the training process based on one’s health condition.
- Individuals with weak physical fitness and low endurance should engage in gentle exercises such as yoga, walking, cycling, swimming, etc.
- Limit exercise frequency to 3-5 times per week, without the need for daily continuous training.
- Monitor vital body indicators such as heart rate and blood pressure. The safe heart rate is <75% of the maximum heart rate, and stable blood pressure is around 120/80 mmHg.
- For individuals with chronic respiratory or cardiovascular diseases, always carry an asthma inhaler.
- Consider hiring a personal trainer for additional advice on suitable and effective physical exercises. Focus on proper posture and start with small details. Avoid incorrect and unsuitable exercise practices for one’s physical condition.
- If health is not optimal, take at least 3 days of rest before resuming exercise. Avoid pushing oneself too hard during workouts.
- Ensure a balanced and nutritious diet, consuming plenty of fruits and vegetables, drinking an adequate amount of water, and reducing intake of fatty, salty, and sugary foods.
- Maintain a regular sleep schedule, aiming for 7-8 hours of sleep per day, and minimize stress and pressure.
- Avoid stimulants such as coffee, tobacco, alcohol, carbonated drinks, etc.
- Individuals who are overweight or obese should follow a scientifically guided weight loss plan to prevent conditions like hyperlipidemia, high blood pressure, and diabetes. These are risk factors for stroke.
These are the preventive measures for stroke after exercise. We hope this information has provided you with valuable insights. With this knowledge, you can help yourself and your loved ones overcome the risk of stroke during and after engaging in sports activities.
John Alen was born in 1971 and is a doctor in the healthcare and psychology fields with many years of experience. He is currently working at easyhealthylive.com, a leading health and psychology blog. Having studied at Y1 National Medical University named after IM Sechenov, John Alen is using his knowledge and experience to help improve the physical and mental health of people in the United States.