It’s estimated that about 5 million people worldwide die every year due to stroke. In the U.S. alone, it’s the leading cause of permanent disability and the third deadliest disease. A stroke happens when the blood supply to the brain is cut off by a blocked artery, a clot or a broken blood vessel. Stroke can happen to anyone regardless of age, sex or race. However, old people are more susceptible to stroke. The good news is that deaths associated with stroke are decreasing due to better preventive care. Also, changing your basic lifestyle can have a great impact on reducing stroke risk. In fact, experts say that 80 percent of stroke can be prevented by addressing lifestyle factors such as diet, quitting smoking and doing regular exercise. Let’s look at the things you can do to prevent a stroke.
Researchers say that obesity and any other complication associated with it such as high blood pressure and diabetes increase the chance of having a stroke. Avoiding things that lead to overweight like junk food and added sugar can be a good start. For overweight individuals, losing as little as 10 pounds can have a real impact on your stroke risk.
Have a personal weight loss strategy that really works for you. Not everyone can achieve the ideal body mass index (BMI) which is 25 or less. But you can achieve a healthy weight by not eating more than 1500 to 2000 calories a day and being physically active.
Exercise, as much as it contributes to low weight and low blood pressure, it’s a stroke reducer on its own. Doing a 30 minutes’ workout every day for five days a week can have a positive impact on your stroke risk. The exercise should be moderately intense to make you breathe hard but not huff and puff. To ensure each day’s workout routine is well executed, do the following:
- Walk around your neighborhood every morning after breakfast.
- Use stairs instead of the elevator.
- Join a fitness club.
- In case you can’t do 30 minutes’ consecutive workout, you can break it into 10 to 15-minute sessions a few times daily.
Lower Your Blood Pressure
According to research, high blood pressure is the number one cause of stroke. Managing, treating and monitoring your blood pressure is the most important thing you can do to improve your vascular health. High blood pressure leads to stroke by thickening artery walls and making cholesterols or other fats to build up and form plaques. If these plaques break free, they can block your brain’s blood supply leading to stroke. Additionally, high blood pressure can weaken arteries making them more likely to burst which can cause hemorrhagic stroke. Eating well and regular exercise are some of the ways to lower your blood pressure.
Control Your Drinking
Studies suggest that one drink per day can lower the risk of stroke. However, increasing your drinking to two drinks a day raises your blood pressure sharply and also your triglycerides. Moderation is the main focus. In addition to that, drinks with resveratrol such as red wine should be your choice since they are said to protect the heart and brain. The standard drink portion should be five-ounce wine, 12-ounce beer and one-and-a-half-ounce glass of hard liquor.
High blood sugar levels can increase the chances of stroke. If not properly managed, diabetes can damage blood vessels by causing clots formation inside them. This narrows the blood vessels in the brain and neck thus cutting off the blood supply to the brain. If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, take medications as prescribed and see your doctor regularly to keep an eye on your blood sugar levels.
Tobacco contributes to an increase in clot formations in several ways. It thickens your blood hence increasing the amount of plaque buildup in the arteries. Moreover, it narrows blood vessels damaging their lining. Even secondhand smoke can increase the risk of stroke. Quitting smoking, healthy diet and exercise are the most powerful lifestyle changes that can reduce your stroke risk significantly. Look for ways to help you quit smoking or you can talk to your doctor for prescriptions.
Eating a healthy and balanced diet can help lower the risk of a stroke and help shed weight if you need to. Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables such as apples, broccoli, spinach, and Brussel sprouts. Avoid processed food, and instead, go for lean meat and high fiber foods. Foods with trans and saturated fats can clog your arteries, hence should stay away from them. Also, avoid foods high in salt because they can raise your blood pressure which is a marker for stroke.
As they say, prevention is better than cure. A stroke happens randomly without any warning. Committing yourself into doing the above health tips can help reduce the risk of stroke.
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