World Stroke Week: Stop blaming witchcraft, change your lifestyle, says KZN health HOD

Picture: Geralt / Pixabay

Picture: Geralt / Pixabay

Published Nov 1, 2022


Durban – KwaZulu-Natal health HOD, Dr Sandile Tshabalala, is urging communities to embrace an active lifestyle instead of blaming cardiovascular diseases on witchcraft.

Tshabalala's comments come as the country is observing World Stroke Week, between October 28 and November 3.

According to recent research by academics at Unisa and the University of Johannesburg, stroke is among the Top 10 leading causes of disability in SA, and accounts for nearly 25 000 deaths annually.

He said communities need to move away from a mindset that seeks to attribute all that is bad to witchcraft without interrogating it; and instead face up to the reality that there are scientific explanations for diseases such as stroke, as well as the fact there is a lot that we can do as individuals to prevent them.

“Exercising or taking a walk for about 30 minutes at least three times a week can assist greatly to open up your blood vessels, and improve blood flow.

“On the other hand, if you smoke, you’re actually depositing tar into your vessels, which makes them thinner, preventing blood from flowing freely,” Tshabalala said.

Tshabalala emphasised that what an individual eats and drinks may also determine whether they’re placing themselves at risk of suffering a stroke.

“Consuming too much sugar, salt or fat is not good for our bodies. Regularly drinking too much alcohol also raises your risk of a stroke.

“We need to go back to basics. Before there was sugar, our forefathers used to boil food. The spices that many people like so much nowadays do not go beyond the mouth.

“We must get to a point where we eat food not because it tastes good, but with a view to ensure that we give our bodies the nutrients that they need,” he added.

A leading vascular surgeon in South Africa, Dr Vinesh Padayachy highlights the need for South Africans to monitor their stress levels and alcohol and tobacco consumption.

There are symptoms to look out for that are easy to remember as FAST:

F – facial weakness

A – arm weakness

S – slurred speech

T – time.

Other signs to look out for include:

– difficulty walking

– loss of balance

– confusion

– blurred vision

– numbness in one or more limbs

– severe headaches.

Seeing these symptoms, a patient should be rushed to the hospital immediately.