A WORKINGTON man is sharing his health journey to mark Stroke Prevention Day, held on January 25.

John, aged 59, has been aided by North Cumbria Integrated Care’s community stroke rehabilitation team following his discharge from the hospital after having a stroke.

John's rehabilitation involved the Early Supported Stroke Discharge (ESSD) team which helped him to identify and manage the risks linked to further strokes.

Since working with the ESSD team, John has decreased his smoking from 20 to five cigarettes a day, cut down on alcohol consumption and has become increasingly active.

Before suffering from a stroke, John had a sedentary lifestyle due to his nightshift job as a bus driver, which made it difficult to get the recommended amount of physical activity.

The ESSD team initially helped John to achieve his goal of going for outdoor walks with his wife.

As part of his continued recovery, John now attends the gym three times a week at the Oval Community Centre in Salterbeck under the ‘Fit for All’ service.

In addition to this, John is attending an exercise group run by the ESSD team.

The group aims to assist stroke survivors with exercise, and provide education, advice, and peer support about health wellness after a stroke.

With the assistance from ESSD, John aims to return to work soon but in a more physical role.

John said: "Without the help from the ESSD Team, my wife and my family, I wouldn't have got to where I am today.

"I felt the team was exceptional and was pleasantly surprised with the support and advice I received.

"I’ll be honest, my first solo walk was daunting, but with the encouragement and support I received, I am now walking the dog along the shore and still have goals to progress this further.

"I couldn’t have done this without their help.”

A stroke occurs when blood supply to a part of the brain is cut off, which can be life-threatening.

However, some strokes can be prevented by making healthy life choices, such as having a healthy diet, regular exercise, avoiding smoking, and cutting down on alcohol.

Jo Howard, the co-ordinator for the Community Stroke Rehab Service at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: "The best way to help prevent a stroke is to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and avoid smoking and drinking too much alcohol.

"Also managing stress is another key strategy in preventing stroke.

"Other medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and high cholesterol can also increase the risk of stroke so managing these well with help from your doctor is important.”

In North Cumbria, around 700 people are hospitalised yearly due to stroke.

Ms Howard said: "There are health professionals such as dietitians, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, nurses, and doctors who work with people who have suffered a stroke to reduce their risk of further strokes."

These professionals can provide advice about lifestyle changes and direct patients to additional support services such as quitting smoking and alcohol support services.

Resources on stroke prevention can be found via the Stroke Association and Blood Pressure UK website.