What is a Stroke?
A stroke can occur when blood flow is cut off to part of your brain. Most of the time, this is because of a blood clot that stops blood flow (these are known as ischemic strokes). It can also be caused by bleeding in the brain (called hemorrhagic strokes). There are a lot of factors that can lead to blood clots or bleeding, and many of them are preventable. We’re going to go over 14 ways you can help prevent a stroke from happening to you and those you love.
Know the Risk Factors
- You are more likely to have a stroke if a parent or close relative has had a stroke.
- Risk of stroke increases with age.
- A previous stroke increases your risk for another stroke.
How to Prevent a Stroke
Despite the risk factors, most strokes are preventable. Here are 14 ways you can lower your risk of stroke:
1. Lower your blood pressure
High blood pressure (or hypertension) is the number one cause of strokes. High blood pressure is measured as 130/80 or higher. It has few symptoms, so get your blood pressure checked regularly. You can lower blood pressure by consuming less salt, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Don’t forget that Heartbeet Complete is perfect for helping you lower your blood pressure!
2. Maintain a healthy weight
Obesity can cause high blood pressure and is often an indicator of other complications that increase your risk of stroke. Increasing physical activity and managing your portion sizes and calorie intake can help you lose any excess weight.
3. Quit smoking
Smoking can have a variety of negative side effects, including thickening the blood, raising blood pressure, increasing triglyceride levels (a lipid in the blood), and causing plaque to build up in the arteries. It is one of the most important lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of a stroke.
4. Be physically active
Be physically active. Being physically active will lower your blood pressure, help you maintain a healthy weight, and help prevent diabetes. In short, thirty minutes of physical activity per day will go a long way in preventing stroke.
5. Maintain blood sugar levels and treat diabetes
High blood sugar can damage the blood vessels over time, which increases the risk of blood clots. If you have high blood sugar or diabetes, work with your doctor to monitor your blood sugar levels, eat a healthy diet, exercise and use prescribed medications.
6. Treat atrial fibrillation
Work with your doctor to treat atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation is an irregular and rapid heartbeat. Your doctor may prescribe medication and help you reduce your risk of blood clots.
7. Get treatment for circulatory problems
These can include peripheral artery disease, sickle cell disease or severe anemia. Work with your doctor to treat these conditions and reduce your risk of stroke.
8. Lower your cholesterol
To maintain a health cholesterol level, avoid foods with LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, like packaged pastries and deep-fried foods. This cholesterol can cause buildup in your arteries, raise your blood pressure, and cause blood clots. Eat foods with HDL cholesterol, including olive oil, nuts, fatty fish, legumes, and avocados. These don’t cause buildup and help clear away LDL cholesterol.
9. Drink alcohol in moderation
Alcohol can raise you blood pressure, increase your weight, and increase your risk of diabetes. Doctors recommend no more than one glass of alcohol per day. Red wine is thought to be a healthier choice because it contains resveratrol. Resveratrol is part of a group of compounds called polyphenols that acts like an antioxidants. They are thought to protect the heart and brain.
10. Get treatment for sleep apnea.
Snoring is a sign you might have sleep apnea, which prevents your brain from getting enough oxygen and raises your blood pressure. Work with your doctor to treat your sleep apnea.
11. Take any prescribed medications
If you have already experienced a stroke, don’t skip on the medication your doctor recommends for you. You are already at increased risk for another stroke, so take every precaution you can!
12. Take one aspirin a day if its OK
Talk with your doctor about taking aspirin. Some studies have shown that a daily dose of aspirin can help lower your risk of stroke. It is probably not good for everyone, so always check with your doctor first!
13. Know your family history
Get to know your family history to learn if you are at higher risk for a stroke. Learn what may have caused it, if possible. This will help you take action to prevent a stroke or respond to a stroke if it occurs.
14. Know the warning signs of a stroke.
Knowing the warning signs will help you and those around you act quickly and reduce damage that can be done. See below what the warning signs are.
Signs of a Stroke
- Numbness in face, arms, or legs, especially when it occurs on one side of the body
- Sudden trouble speaking or understanding
- Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden difficulty walking
- Loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden, severe headache
If you experience these symptoms, get emergency help immediately!
The Bottom Line
Strokes are caused by blood clots that prevent blood flow to the brain or by bleeding in the brain. They can cause damage to brain tissue and impair cognition, memory, and other functions. But there are ways you can lower your risk. By understanding the risk factors and doing what you can to lower your blood pressure and maintain a healthy lifestyle, you can reduce your risk of stroke.