Top Tips for Stroke Prevention

In last week’s article, we discussed what a stroke is and the warning signs. It’s also important to know how to do your part to prevent a stroke, especially when over 795,000 Americans have a stroke each year. There are helpful ways to reduce you or your loved ones risk of having this serious medical condition. Keep reading to check out the top tips for stroke prevention.

1. Eat Healthy

One of the best ways to reduce your risk for a stroke is to eat healthy. A healthy meal consists of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and seafood, and whole grains. You can take it a step further to eat foods that can lower your blood pressure levels and prevent high cholesterol, which reduces your chances of having a stroke. This includes foods that are low in sodium, saturated and trans fats, sugars, and cholesterol, while consuming more foods that are high in fiber.

Healthy Food Choices:

  • Beans
  • Dark chocolate
  • Fish
  • Fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Whole grains

2. Exercise Regularly

Regular exercise has several health benefits, particularly with reducing your blood pressure and helping you maintain a healthy weight. It’s recommended that adults exercise for two hours and 30 minutes a week, while children and teens should exercise for an hour a day. This is a realistic health goal because you can break up the exercises into short durations each week. For example, you can do 30 minutes a day or 15 minutes twice a day. To help gain the most benefits, try to reach a level where you are breathing hard, but can still talk.

Physical Activity Ideas:

  • Dumbbell strength training
  • Joining a fitness club with friends
  • Pilates
  • Stair climbing
  • Walking
  • Water aerobics
  • Yoga

3. Maintain a Healthy Weight

It’s no surprise that obesity can lead to several health risks, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. These health concerns then increase your risk of having a stroke. Since each person has unique health needs and goals, it’s recommended that you talk to your primary doctor about creating a health plan to help you maintain a healthier weight. As little as losing 10 pounds can reduce your stroke risk.

Tips for Maintaining a Healthier Weight:

  • Eat an appropriate amount of calories based on your health needs, activity level, and current BMI (body mass index).
  • Make physical activity a part of your regular routine. Do something you love, which will make it likely to become a new healthy habit.

4. Drink Moderately

Like anything in life, moderation is key. Studies show that drinking one alcoholic drink a day may help prevent strokes. This benefit goes away once you start drinking more than two drinks per day, which significantly increases your risk for having a stroke. The key takeaway here is to either drink a little a day or avoid it altogether.

Drink Tips:

  • Having one glass of alcohol a day is healthy and safe, as long as your doctor approves based on your health needs and current medications.
  • Red wine is an excellent option that contains resveratrol, which is good for your brain and heart.
  • Just like with food, watch your drink portions. A standard drink is 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or 1.5 ounces of liquor. 

5. Quit Smoking

Aside from stroke prevention, quitting smoking is important for your overall health and well-being. When you smoke, this increases clot formation by thickening your blood and increasing the amount of plaque buildup in your arteries. Since it’s not easy to quit smoking, talk with your doctor about the best treatment options to safely stop smoking.

How to Stop Smoking:

  • Don’t give up. Most smokers need several attempts before they can permanently stop smoking. 
  • Have a support system to help you get through this difficult time.
  • Use a variety of options to quit, such as nicotine pills or patches, therapy, chewing gum, or medications.

6. Lower Blood Pressure

Having high blood pressure significantly increases your risk for having a stroke, especially if it’s not treated. It’s important to talk with your doctor about how to monitor and treat your blood pressure levels on a regular basis. For most people, having a blood pressure level that is less than 120/80 is ideal. Please note that some people have higher levels due to medications they take or from dizziness when standing.

Tips to Lower Blood Pressure Levels:

  • Lower your consumption of high sodium foods. It’s best to eat no more than 1,500 milligrams of salt daily. This is around half a teaspoon.
  • Eat more polyunsaturated and monounsaturated foods.
  • Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy every day, along with fish a couple times a week.
  • Try to exercise at least 30 minutes a day.
  • If you smoke, take the steps to quit.

As you can see, there are several ways to help reduce your risk for having a stroke. While there is no option to completely prevent strokes, these tips can help reduce your risk for several health issues. Always talk with your doctor about your specific health needs and what you can do to live the best quality of life possible. Contact Liberty Healthcare and Rehabilitation Services to learn more about expert services designed to meet your health goals.