According to the CDC, every year, more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke and as we age, the more susceptible we are to having one. Family history plays a significant role as well.
While we can’t reverse the clock or change our family’s health history, there are some steps you can take to prevent a stroke.
- Lower blood pressure. High blood pressure is a huge factor, doubling or even quadrupling your stroke risk if it is not controlled. Reduce the salt in your diet, ideally to no more than 1,500 milligrams a day, eat 4 to 5 cups of fruits and vegetables every day, one serving of fish two to three times a week, and several daily servings of whole grains and low-fat dairy. Cutting out smoking can also make a significant difference.
- Lose weight. Being overweight can cause several different health complications, but losing weight can lower your risk of stroke. Talk with your health care provider about the right weight loss plan for you.
- Moderate how much you drink. Drinking a little alcohol is okay, and it may decrease your risk of stroke. Studies show that if you have about one drink per day, your risk may be lower. Once you start drinking more than two drinks per day, your risk goes up very sharply. Adding more water to your lifestyle can work wonders as well.
- Exercise more. Exercise contributes to losing weight and lowering blood pressure, but it also stands on its own as an independent stroke reducer.
- Monitor for or treat diabetes. Keep your blood sugar levels under control and talk with your health care provider about any concerns you might have as well as establishing an action plan.
Remember that with a stroke, time lost is brain lost. Keep the FAST warning signs (Face, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty and Time) in mind and call 911 if these signs appear.