Each year, approximately 795,000 people suffer from a stroke in the U.S. Of these, more than 140,000 die of complications from the stroke, making it the third leading cause of death in the United States. Although anyone can have a stroke, certain risk factors in a person’s life can increase their chances. Studies show that around 80% of strokes can be avoided through lifestyle changes and working with a healthcare professional. Since strokes are such serious and debilitating events, prevention is the best way to make sure you live a long, healthy, stroke-free life. Below, we review five key lifestyle changes that can greatly reduce your chances of having a stroke.
1. Keep Blood Pressure Low
High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of a stroke. People with healthy blood pressure (less than 120/80) have about half the lifetime risk of having a stroke. This is because high blood pressure damages blood vessels throughout the body which makes them more susceptible to developing clots. Make sure you have your blood pressure checked regularly and take the necessary steps to maintain a healthy level.
2. Eat Healthier
Eating healthier will do wonders for your overall health, but it is especially important in preventing strokes. People with a diet high in saturated fat and cholesterol have heightened blood-cholesterol levels, which lead to stroke-causing artery clogging. Also, people who eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day can reduce their stroke risk.
3. Control Your Weight (Exercise)
Improving your diet is a great start to stroke prevention, but pairing it with regular exercise will help even more. Exercise helps reduce blood pressure, control weight, and reduce stress—three key ways to prevent a stroke. Even people who gain 22 pounds after the age of 18 increase their chances of having a stroke. Take time each day to do light to moderate exercise and you will greatly decrease your stroke risk.
4. Reduce Stress
People with high stress levels tend to be more susceptible to stroke as it increases blood pressure and can be harmful to your overall health. Although stress is often unavoidable, there are ways you can reduce your stress levels. First, identify your stressors. This will help you either avoid situations that stress you or help you better deal with the stress once it arises. Also, be sure to take time each day to relax and free your mind of worry. Exercise is also a great stress reliever, and it will improve your overall health, as well.
5. Quit Smoking
Smoking doubles your chances of having a stroke as it damages blood vessels, raises blood pressure, makes the heart work harder and speeds up the process of artery clogging. People who quit smoking will see a dramatic reduction in the risk of having a smoke after two years. After five years, the risk factor of having a stroke will be at the same level as a non-smoker.
You can take charge of your health, and in so doing, reduce your risk not only of stroke, but also of heart attack, diabetes, and other diseases that are caused and exacerbated by lifestyle choices.
Neurologists in NYC - Dr. Alina Rabinovich, M.D. provides general neurology, wellness treatments, and rejuvenation at Midtown Neurology & Aesthetics in New York City. Dr. Rabinovich is certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and is a practicing attending Neurologist in the Division of Vascular Neurology at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn. She is active in clinical work, teaching, and clinical research and recently served as an attending Neurologist at the Multiple Sclerosis Center at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, NJ. Dr. Rabinovich obtained her medical degree at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse and completed her Internal Medicine Internship training at New York Hospital of Queens and her Neurology Residency training at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, NY. She completed her Fellowship training in Multiple Sclerosis at UMDNJ in Newark, NJ. Dr. Rabinovich holds a professional membership with the American Academy of Neurology.
Five Ways to Prevent a Stroke