Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. It occurs when the blood supply to your brain is interrupted or reduced. This is often caused by a narrowing of blood vessels. Older people and those with diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure are at a greater risk for stroke.
While certain risk factors can not be changed such as hereditary factors. But making a small change to your lifestyle can greatly reduce your risk of getting a stroke. Here are some tips to get you started.
1. Control high blood pressure
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a major risk factor for stroke. Blood pressure is considered high if it stays at or above 140/90 mmHg over time. Hypertension usually has no symptoms, so it’s important to have your blood pressure checked regularly.
You can check your blood pressure at a doctor’s office or pharmacy. You can also self-test your blood pressure at home with a digital blood pressure monitor.
If you have high blood pressure, you can lower it by making changes in your lifestyle. Learn more about how to manage high blood pressure.
2. Manage diabetes
Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when a person’s blood glucose (sugar) levels are higher than normal. High blood sugar can damage blood vessels, making it more likely for plaque to build up in the walls of the blood vessels. This buildup can cause a narrowing of the blood vessel wall or a blockage that cuts off blood supply to the brain, leading to a stroke.
If you have diabetes, you should try to keep your blood sugar levels within a normal range. Check out these 10 ways to lower your blood sugar naturally.
3. Stop smoking
Smoking increases the risk of stroke by two to four times. The nicotine and carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke may thicken your blood and increase the amount of plaque buildup on the walls of the arteries, causing them to harden and narrow.
If you do smoke, quitting can greatly reduce your risk of getting a stroke. Try these 9 tips to help you quit smoking.
4. Limit alcohol intake
Drinking too much alcohol can increase your blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for stroke. But, if you drink a small amount of alcohol occasionally, it’s not necessarily harmful.
The U.S. guidelines recommend that women should drink no more than one glass per day, while men should not drink more than two.
5. Maintain a healthy weight
Being overweight increases your risk of having a stroke. This is because obesity has been linked to high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol. To maintain a healthy weight, you need to balance the number of calories you eat with the number of calories you burn through physical activity.
Read also: 15 ways to cut calories and lose weight
6. Exercise regularly
Regular exercise is one of the best way to reduce stroke risk. This can help lower your blood sugar and keep your blood pressure healthy. For normal adults, aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as cycling, brisk walking or running, every week.
7. Eat a healthy balanced diet
An unhealthy diet can increase your chance of having a stroke as it may lead to an increase in your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
A healthy balanced diet includes plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and a moderate amount of lean meat or legume products. Also, you should limit the amount of salt intake to no more than 6g a day as too much salt will increase your blood pressure.