Stroke doesn't choose ages, races or religion - it can happen to anyone.

António Célio Ramos is 43 years old and key-account manager of a large national beverage company. He also cares for stroke survivor Diana Wong Ramos, his wife and is a member of the Portuguese Stroke Association.

Before the stroke, did you have any idea that Diana was at risk of stroke?
No, of course not! When you are 30, if there is no history of stroke in your family, you don't expect your wife who was always healthy to be at risk for stroke.
When and how did you realise that Diana was having a stroke?
I noticed in the immediate moment that Diana was having a stroke...when her arm and hand began to make uncontrolled movements and her eyes began to roll (she suffered three strong convulsions, like an epileptic seizure)

Can you tell us a little about life before stroke?
We were married 12 years ago (the stroke happened on the date of our wedding anniversary, 26/06/2011), we already had 2 children (David was 9 years old, Madalena 6), very attached to us, and an extremely demanding daily life in terms of hours, responsibilities, with stressful work tasks. To relieve the stress Diana smoked ... did not practice any kind of sports activity, did meals after hours, unhealthy, but as always was very perfectionist (a little obsessive-compulsive when it comes to housekeeping!). Our house had to be always in order! She couldn't rest until it was all in keeping with her ideals, even if she was very tired.

How has life changed for you and the people around your since Diana's stroke?
Our family life has changed - a lot! Diana has been struggling to take a quieter day, she has stopped working (in her professional activity) and has had the availability and patience that she longed to take care of her children (though we had Maria in 2014), the house, of our family! We have created new friendships especially with people who have suffered stroke and their families.

What steps does Diana take now to prevent stroke? How are you working to reduce specific risks?
Diana takes daily medication to regulate the thickness of the blood, whenever possible we take walks by the sea (which she likes so much!) and she has stopped smoking. Already  she has managed to stop taking the anti-convulsive tablets but still need to take anti-depressant. We try, all 5 of us, to the maximum we do activities that give us pleasure and good mood.

What would you say to other people to make them take stroke prevention seriously?
It will never be too much to communicate that sedentary lives, stress, obesity, tobacco, are high risk factors for a stroke and warning whenever they have some senseless speech symptom, falling or lack of strength of an arm, ask someone for help or call 112 (emergency number).

What is your reason for preventing strokes?
Culturally the western (compared to the Eastern) people have little "concern" about prevention, only taking practical steps after it happens! So the issues related to stroke prevention are no exception. The Portuguese Stroke Association (Pt.AVC), of which I am a part, makes me believe that in every message that I pass, through social networks or otherwise, I can will help each person to reflect on the strong probability of having a stroke because stroke doesn't choose ages, races or religion.

Stroke doesn't choose ages, races or religion - it can happen to anyone. Reviewed by Anita Wiseman on Tuesday, October 03, 2017 Rating: 5
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