There are many risk factors that may place you at a greater chance of having a stroke. While you cannot control your age, sex, race, or family history, it is important to be aware that these factors could be predisposing you to a stroke. Awareness may encourage you to make lifestyle changes for the risk factors that you can control. Preventing stroke is integral to healthy living, especially if you have experienced a stroke in the past as recurrent strokes are more likely to occur.
1. Lower blood pressure
High blood pressure is the leading contributor to stroke, increasing a person’s chances by at least one and a half times. It is important to monitor your blood pressure numbers, especially if you have a personal or family history of high blood pressure. This is a controllable risk factor that can be lowered through lifestyle changes and medications.
2. Quit Smoking
Smoking is a crucial risk factor for stroke. If you smoke, it is important to begin taking steps to quit. Smoking can accelerate blood clot formation by thickening your blood and increasing plaque build-up in your arteries. Smoking aids such as nicotine gum or patches may be able to help you quit. It can take some smokers several tries before they finally quit, so do your best to not get discouraged. Asking a doctor the most appropriate way for you to quit may be beneficial.
3. Lose weight
If you are obese or overweight, taking steps to lower yourself to a healthy weight can decrease your risk of stroke. Maintaining a heavyweight is linked to high blood pressure and diabetes, both stroke risk factors. Even losing as little as 5 to 10 pounds can have a positive impact on lowering your risk of stroke. Speak to a healthcare professional about the best way to lose weight if you have struggled with weight consistently in the past.
4. Participate in physical activity
Living a sedentary lifestyle increases your likelihood of having high blood pressure, being obese and therefore having a stroke. Taking up some form of daily physical activity can make a difference. Consider a daily walk or choose to take the stairs- anything you can do to increase activity can decrease your chances of having a stroke.
5. Take up a healthy diet
Healthy eating can lower your chances of having a stroke by helping you lose weight and lowering cholesterol levels. A healthy diet means avoiding foods that are high in cholesterol, saturated and trans fat, and sodium. Consuming five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day, one serving of fish two or three times a week, and daily servings of whole grains and low-fat dairy can help reduce the likelihood of a stroke.
6. Monitor and control cholesterol
Cholesterol or plaque build-up in the arteries can lead to improper blood flow to the brain. If you have high cholesterol, getting it under control can have many health benefits, including decreased risk of stroke. High cholesterol levels can be controlled through healthy eating habits, physical activity, and medications.
Whether you have been predisposed to certain stroke risk factors or they are due to lifestyle choices, you can choose to increase your brain health today by making small changes over time.
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