Stroke is preventable and treatable. A better understanding of the causes of stroke has helped people make lifestyle changes that have cut the stroke death rate nearly in half in the last two decades.
While family history of stroke plays a role in your risk, there are many risk factors you can control:
If you have high blood pressure, work with your doctor to get it under control. Managing your high blood pressure is the most important thing you can do to avoid stroke.
Also called hypertension, this is by far the most potent risk factor for stroke. If your blood pressure is high, you and your doctor need to work out an individual strategy to bring it down to the normal range.
Some ways that may work include:
- Maintain proper weight
- Avoid drugs known to raise blood pressure
- Cut down on salt
- Eat fruits and vegetables to increase potassium in your diet.
- Exercise more
Your doctor may prescribe medicines that help lower blood pressure. Controlling blood pressure will also help you avoid heart disease, diabetes, and kidney failure.
Cigarette smoking has been linked to the buildup of fatty substances in the carotid artery, the main neck artery supplying blood to the brain. Blockage of this artery is the leading cause of stroke in Americans. Also, nicotine raises blood pressure; carbon monoxide reduces the amount of oxygen your blood can carry to the brain; and cigarette smoke makes your blood thicker and more likely to clot.
Your doctor can recommend programs and medications that may help you quit smoking. By quitting, at any age, you also reduce your risk of lung disease, heart disease, and a number of cancers including lung cancer.
If you have diabetes, learn how to manage it. Many people do not realize they have diabetes, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
You may think this disorder affects only the body’s ability to use sugar, or glucose. But it also causes destructive changes in the blood vessels throughout the body, including the brain. Also, if blood glucose levels are high at the time of a stroke, then brain damage is usually more severe and extensive than when blood glucose is well-controlled. Treating diabetes can delay the onset of complications that increase the risk of stroke. Read Treatments For Diabetes, for more information.
If you are overweight, start maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
Eating a balanced diet is key to maintaining a healthy diet. Try to eat less saturated fats and processed foods. Read Tips To Healthier Eating Habits to learn more about healthy eating.
Exercising several times a week or at least 30 minutes a day promotes healthy heart and muscles, plus helps revitalize your energy. Also, weighing yourself daily will help you keep track of your weight, thus, helping you stay focus in losing weight.
If you have high cholesterol, work with your doctor to lower it. A high level of total cholesterol in the blood is a major risk factor for heart disease, which raises your risk of stroke.
High cholesterol is treated with lifestyle changes: a heart healthy eating plan, physical activity, and loss of excess weight. However, if those do not lower it enough, you need to consult your doctor for medications.
To learn more about stroke, read Understanding Stroke. This article contains a brief overview on stroke, which includes warning signs and risk factors for stroke.
- Exercise For Healthy Lifestyle
- Lifestyle Changes To Improve Your Health
- Tips To Healthier Eating Habits
- Diabetes and Heart Disease
- Dealing With Diabetes
- Preventing Diabetes
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