Strokes can be extremely scary. According to the CDC, more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke every year. Family history, previous strokes and health factors all contribute to your risk of stroke. While you can’t change your family, there are ways you can lower your future risk and prevent a stroke from happening. Here are 6 ways that can help prevent a stroke:
Lower Your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is the number one cause of strokes, responsible for over 50%. Having high blood pressure makes you 4-6 times more likely to have a stroke. That’s because it increases your risk of blood clots, which can cut off blood flow to your brain. Ideal blood pressure is under 120/80, but if yours is regularly higher than 140/90 then you may have high blood pressure.
Work with your doctor on keeping your blood pressure in a healthy range. Medications and lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise are common treatments for high blood pressure.
Maintain A Healthy Weight
A healthy weight prevents so many health issues, and strokes are no exception. Obesity leads to high cholesterol and high blood pressure, both of which increase your risk of stroke. A BMI of less than 25 is ideal but may not be realistic for everyone. Work with your doctor to create a treatment plan to help you reach and maintain a healthy weight. Of course, that means you’ll need to diet and exercise.
Diet and Exercise
Healthy lifestyle choices go a long way in preventing a stroke. Choosing healthy foods like fruits, veggies, lean protein, cutting out fats, salts and sugars, help you shed pounds and stay heart-healthy. Exercising is also important to staying healthy and minimizing your risk of stroke. You don’t have to become a pro-athlete - moderate exercise such as walking or biking for 30 minutes, 5 times a week is enough. Talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise regime.
High blood sugar makes you 2-4 times more likely to have a stroke. Untreated diabetes can cause clots or fatty deposits to build in your arteries, causing them to narrow and restrict blood flow. If you have diabetes, be sure to stay on top of your blood sugar and have regular visits with your doctor to lower your risk of stroke.
Smoking doubles your risk of a stroke. It causes high blood pressure, reduces your blood’s oxygen levels, damages your blood vessels, and much more. Even secondhand smoke can increase your risk. It’s best to throw your butts in the trash. Speak to your doctor about smoking cessation methods.
Drink in Moderation
Excessive alcohol consumption raises your blood pressure, affects your blood sugar, and can cause irregular heartbeats (atrial fibrillation). Limit your intake of alcohol to minimize your risk of stroke. If you struggle to stop drinking, seek the help of your doctor.
Using tips like the one above, we can now prevent up to 80% of strokes. If you’re at risk, the professionals at Vascular Associates of South Alabama can work with you on a stroke prevention plan to minimize your chance of future strokes. From lifestyle changes to medications or surgery, we can help you take back your health and your life. Contact us today!