How to Avoid a Stroke

A stroke occurs when part of the brain loses its blood supply. The lack of blood damages the surrounding brain tissue and causes swelling and pressure inside the skull, which can further damage the brain. There are several stroke risk factors. Some factors, like age, race and heredity are beyond your control. Other factors are known as controllable risk factors and are important to be aware of if you want to learn how to avoid a stroke.

Steps

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    Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity puts excessive strain on the cardiovascular system and weakens the blood vessels.
    • Obesity also increases your risk for other stroke risk factors such as high blood cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes.
    • A body mass index (BMI) over 30 is considered obese. You can calculate your BMI with an online calculator.
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    Remain active. Regular physical activity keeps your cardiovascular system healthy and prevents obesity and other risk factors for stroke.
    • The American Council on Exercise recommends 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise, such as walking, most days of the week for general health.
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    Follow a healthy diet.
    • Consume fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, such as fish and chicken, whole grains, and foods high in healthy fats, such as fish and nuts. Such a diet will help keep your blood pressure and bad cholesterol low, which will reduce your risk for a stroke.
    • Avoid processed foods and foods high in saturated fats, cholesterol and sodium. These foods raise your bad cholesterol, blood pressure and risk of diabetes which all put you at higher risk of having a stroke.
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    Stop smoking. Smoking damages your blood vessels and increases your risk for heart disease and stroke. It also increases your risk for cancer and respiratory diseases.
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    Reduce your alcohol consumption. Excessive alcohol consumption damages the blood vessels and increases your risk for stroke and stroke-related disease.
    • Consume no more than 2 alcoholic drinks per day. One drink is defined as 12 oz. (354 ml) of beer, 5 oz. (147 ml) of wine and up to 1 1/2 oz. (44 ml) of liquor.
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    Monitor your blood pressure. Hypertension is one of the major contributing factors to stroke.
    • If you have been diagnosed with hypertension, follow your doctor's instructions for controlling your blood pressure, including taking your medication and following any dietary advice.
    • Hypertension is considered the silent killer because it often has no symptoms. Have regular physicals and get regular blood pressure readings.
    • Normal blood pressure is between 110/70 and 120/80. A reading of 140/90 is considered borderline. Anything over 140/90 is considered hypertension.
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    Control your blood sugar levels. High blood sugar damages your blood vessels and puts you at greater risk for stroke.
    • If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, follow your doctor's instructions for controlling your blood sugar.

Article Info

Categories: Cardiovascular Health and Blood Pressure