Day 22: Reduce Your Risk of a Stroke
Although no one can predict the exact time when a stroke will strike, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk or prevent one. Certain things — like age and family history of stroke — you can’t do much about, but when an underlying medical condition puts you at risk, you may be able to do something about it.
Eliminate Lifestyle Risks
- Quit smoking. Smoking is the number one risk factor for stroke, and smoking makes almost all other stroke risks worse.
- Lose weight. Ask your doctor what a healthy weight is for you and lose any extra pounds to get to that weight.
- Eat a healthier diet. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and incorporate some low-fat dairy. Cut back on saturated fat, total fat and cholesterol.
- Consume less sodium. Ideally, you should stay under 1,500 mg a day.
- Get more exercise. Try to get at least 90 to 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week. You can also combine this with weight training and/or isometric resistance exercises.
- Limit alcohol. Drink no more than two drinks a day if you’re a man and no more than one drink a day if you’re a woman. One drink equals 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or an ounce-and-a-half of liquor.
Reduce Your Medical Risks
There are underlying medical conditions that add to your risk of stroke. Keep these conditions under control so you can minimize that increased risk.
- High blood pressure. Many people are able to control high blood pressure by eating a low-sodium diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, getting regular exercise, and taking blood pressure medications exactly as prescribed.
- High cholesterol. Having high cholesterol levels builds up fatty plaques that reduce blood flow in the arteries. This is a condition called atherosclerosis, which can lead to a stroke. If diet and exercise don’t bring your cholesterol levels down enough, your doctor may prescribe cholesterol-lowering drugs that can significantly cut your stroke risk.
- Atrial fibrillation. A-Fib is a common cause of stroke. Treatment with medications that prevent blood clots reduces the risk.
- Diabetes. Diabetes quadruples the risk of stroke, and two-thirds of people with diabetes eventually die of stroke or a heart attack. It’s extremely important for people with diabetes to manage high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
- Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School, retrieved from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/how-to-lower-your-stroke-risk/a>
- American Stroke Association, retrieved from: https://www.stroke.org/en/about-stroke/stroke-risk-factors/stroke-risk-factors-you-can-control-treat-and-improve
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