Did you know that stroke is one of the leading causes of disability in the USA?
It’s also a major cause of death worldwide. (1)
Fortunately, the right lifestyle changes can greatly reduce the risk.
According to the World Health Organization, a staggering 85% of cases are preventable — all it takes is making healthier choices! (2)
Before we dive into these simple lifestyle choices for stroke prevention, let’s cover the basics…
In a Nutshell: What Is a Stroke?
A stroke occurs when a part of the brain isn’t receiving enough blood and oxygen flow.
Ultimately, brain cells can begin to die in minutes.
Make no mistake about it, a stroke is a major medical emergency and needs to be treated immediately.
The faster it’s treated, the lower the risks are for brain damage and other complications.
What to Do in the Event of a Stroke – Act FAST!
The acronym FAST stands for Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulties, and Time.
F – Check whether the person is able to smile. If one side of their face is drooping, that’s the first sign of a stroke.
A – Can they raise both arms for ten seconds straight? If one arm falls or begins to drop, it could be a stroke.
S – Ask them to speak simple sentences, like “the sky is blue.” If they slur their words or simply don’t make sense, it’s another tell-tale sign.
T – Time is of the essence! Seek emergency medical attention ASAP.
Now, let’s take a look at the lifestyle changes you can do to reduce the risk of stroke.
5 Lifestyle Changes for Stroke Prevention
The best way to prevent a stroke is to make a few simple lifestyle changes, like:
Not drinking alcohol
These lifestyle changes are even more important if you’ve already had a stroke because once you have one you’re more likely to have another.
Plus, these lifestyle choices also reduce the risk of other conditions like atherosclerosis, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
Now, let’s take a look at each of these stroke prevention tips:
Stroke Prevention Tip #1: Eat a Healthy Diet
Effective stroke prevention starts with what you put in your body!
An unhealthy diet is one of the biggest risk factors for strokes.
Over time, foods like trans fats and sugar increase blood pressure and jack up cholesterol levels.
But what exactly does a healthy diet look like?
For starters, aim for a low-fat, high-fiber diet. (3)
At the same time, don’t forget to eat plenty of fresh vegetables like dense leafy greens, broccoli, and cauliflower.
Another key factor is to mix it up. In other words, don’t eat too much of any single type of food. A little diversity is great for the gut!
Try to avoid foods that are high in salt, especially frozen or shelf-stable processed foods.
This is because too much salt can boost blood pressure and increase the risk of stroke.
Stroke Prevention Tip #2: Exercise Regularly
Exercise has so many health benefits that it’s hard to know where to begin!.
In fact, exercise is shown to improve: (4)
Mental and physical endurance
The overall quality of life
First of all, the combination of regular exercise and diet supports a healthy weight, which is key to stroke prevention.
Plus, it also allows you to keep your cholesterol and blood pressure in check.
All it takes is two-and-a-half hours of moderate-intensity exercise a week.
You can do anything from cycling, brisk walking, or swimming – whatever is most comfortable for you.
The bottom line is, you don’t have to push yourself to the limits.
After all, exercise is supposed to be fun and rejuvenating!
However, if you’re recovering from a stroke, always make sure to discuss exercise routines with your doctor or rehab team.
In many cases, everyday exercises simply won’t be possible shortly after a stroke, but that’s okay. Celebrate the small wins and make slow and steady progress each and every day.
Stroke Prevention Tip #3: Don’t Smoke
There’s a strong link between smoking and strokes.
If you don’t smoke, then good for you! You’re already one step ahead of the game.
Smoking is so bad because it narrows the arteries and increases the risk of blood clots: globs of blood that block blood flow.
In fact, studies show that smokers have a 61% higher chance of stroke and former smokers have about a 30% greater risk. (5)
Make sure to avoid secondhand smoke too…
The same research suggests that even passive smoke increases the overall risk of stroke by a staggering 45%. Yikes!
Believe it or not, for every five cigarettes you smoke per day, you have a 12% greater risk.
And of course, not smoking comes with many other health benefits, like a reduced risk of heart disease and lung cancer.
It’s an all-around win for your health!
Stroke Prevention Tip #4: Don’t Drink Alcohol
Just like smoking tobacco, alcohol can lead to symptoms like high blood pressure and irregular heartbeat.
In addition, alcoholic beverages like beer are high in calories and contribute to weight gain.
All of the above are serious risk factors for having a stroke.
Ultimately, heavy drinking triples the risk of stroke, which is why it is best to avoid drinking alcohol altogether. (6)
This is especially true if you’re already recovering from your first stroke.
If this is the case, follow your doctor’s orders and stay the heck away from alcohol — even a single beer or glass of wine is too much.
Just say no to booze!
Stroke Prevention Tip #5: Keep Your Weight Under Control
Are you overweight or obese?
As it turns out, obesity is one of the leading risk factors for stroke.
To make matters worse, obesity is also linked to high blood pressure and diabetes. (7)
The ideal Body Mass Index, or BMI, is 25 or less. Consult your doctor to find out where you’re at.
No matter what, you can get yourself back on track with nutrition, exercise, and healthier lifestyle choices.
Treat Other Underlying Health Conditions
Strokes are much more likely to happen if you have other underlying health issues, like:
High Blood Pressure
Type 1 & Type 2 Diabetes
Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIA)
Do any of these issues sound like you?
If so, you have your work cut out for you, but the good news is that you can kill a lot of birds with one stone.
Eating veggies and avoiding sugar is great for the heart, the arteries, and the brain.
At the same time, regular exercise reduces the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.
Everything is connected and that puts the power in your hands!
Are you ready to take control of your health and live a fun, vibrant life?
If you have any more questions about stroke prevention, feel free to reach out to us at Complete Care Health Centers.
We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.