6 things you can do to prevent a stroke

0
495

What can you do to prevent stroke? Age makes us more susceptible to having a stroke, as does having a mother, father, or other close relatives who have had a stroke.

You can’t reverse the years or change your family history, but there are many other stroke risk factors that you can control—provided that you’re aware of them. Knowledge is power.

If you know that a particular risk factor is sabotaging your health and predisposing you to a higher risk of stroke, you can take steps to alleviate the effects of that risk.

How to prevent stroke

Here are seven ways to start reining in your risks today to avoid stroke, before a stroke has the chance to strike.

1. Lower blood pressure

High blood pressure is a huge factor, doubling or even quadrupling your stroke risk if it is not controlled. High blood pressure is the biggest contributor to the risk of stroke in both men and women. Monitoring blood pressure and, if it is elevated, treating it, is probably the biggest difference people can make to their vascular health.

Your goal: An ideal goal is maintaining a blood pressure of less than 120/80. But there may be good reasons why you and your doctor will not want your readings to be this low. For some, a less aggressive goal (such as no higher than 140/90) may be more appropriate.

How to achieve it:

Reduce the salt in your diet to no more than 1,500 milligrams a day (about a half teaspoon).

Avoid high-cholesterol foods, such as burgers, cheese, and ice cream.

Eat 4 to 5 cups of fruits and vegetables every day, one serving of fish two to three times a week, and several daily servings of whole grains and low-fat dairy.

Get more exercise — at least 30 minutes of activity a day, and more, if possible.
Quit smoking, if you smoke.

If needed, take blood pressure medicines.

2. Lose weight

Obesity, as well as the complications linked to it (including high blood pressure and diabetes), raises your odds of having a stroke. If you’re overweight, losing as little as 10 pounds can have a real impact on your stroke risk.

Your goal: While an ideal body mass index (BMI) is 25 or less, that may not be realistic for you. Work with your doctor to create a personal weight loss strategy.

How to achieve it:

Try to eat no more than 1,500 to 2,000 calories a day (depending on your activity level and your current BMI).

Increase the amount of exercise you do with activities like walking, golfing, or playing tennis, and by making activity part of every single day.

3. Exercise more

Exercise contributes to losing weight and lowering blood pressure, but it also stands on its own as an independent stroke reducer.

Your goal: Exercise at a moderate intensity at least five days a week.

How to achieve it:

Take a walk around your neighborhood every morning after breakfast.
Start a fitness club with friends.

When you exercise, reach the level at which you’re breathing hard, but you can still talk.
Take the stairs instead of an elevator when you can.

If you don’t have 30 consecutive minutes to exercise, break it up into 10- to 15-minute sessions a few times each day.

4. If you drink — do it in moderation

Drinking a little alcohol, such as an average of one per day, is okay. Once you start drinking more than two drinks per day, your risk goes up very sharply.

Your goal: Don’t drink alcohol or do it in moderation.

How to achieve it:

Have no more than one glass of alcohol a day.

Consider red wine as your first choice, which some studies suggest might help prevent heart disease and stroke.

Watch your portion sizes. A standard-sized drink is a 5-ounce glass of wine, 12-ounce beer, or 1.5-ounce glass of hard liquor.

5. Treat atrial fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is a form of irregular heartbeat that causes clots to form in the heart.

Those clots can then travel to the brain, producing a stroke. Atrial fibrillation carries almost a fivefold risk of stroke, and should be taken seriously.

Your goal: If you have atrial fibrillation, get it treated.

How to achieve it:

If you have symptoms such as heart palpitations or shortness of breath, see your doctor for an exam.

You may need to take an anticoagulant drug (blood thinner), such as one of the direct-acting anticoagulant drugs to reduce your stroke risk from atrial fibrillation. Your doctors can guide you through this treatment.

6. Treat diabetes

Having high blood sugar damages blood vessels over time, making clots more likely to form inside them.

Your goal: Keep your blood sugar under control.

How to achieve it:

Monitor your blood sugar as directed by your doctor.
Use diet, exercise, and medicines to keep your blood sugar within the recommended range.

Health.harvard.edu

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here