Everyone has some stroke risk. A few stroke risk factors are beyond your control, such as being over 55, being male, being an African-American, having diabetes, and having a family history of stroke. If you have one of these risk factors, it is even more important that you learn about the lifestyle and medical changes you can make to prevent a stroke.
National Stroke Association’s Stroke Prevention Guidelines
Know your blood pressure. If it is elevated, work with your doctor to keep it under control. Consult your doctor if the higher number (your systolic blood pressure) is usually about 135 or if the lower number (diastolic blood pressure) is usually over 85.
Find out if you have atrial fibrillation (AF). If you have AF, work with your doctor to manage it. AF can cause blood to collect in the chambers of your heart, forming clots and causing a stroke.
If you smoke, stop. Smoking doubles the risk for stroke.
If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Drinking a glass of wine or beer or one drink each day may lower your risk for stroke (provided there is no other medical reason you should avoid alcohol). Remember that alcohol is a drug and that it can interact with other drugs you are taking. Alcohol is harmful if taken in large doses. If you don’t drink, don’t start.
Know your cholesterol number. If it is high, work with your doctor to control it. Lowering your cholesterol may reduce your risk for stroke. High cholesterol can also indirectly increase stroke risk by putting you at greater risk of heart disease – an important stroke risk factor. Often times, high cholesterol can be controlled with diet and exercise; some individuals may require medication.
If you are a diabetic, follow your doctor’s recommendations carefully to control your diabetes. Your doctor can prescribe a nutrition program, lifestyle changes and medicine that can help control your diabetes.
Include exercise into your daily routine. A brisk walk, swim or other exercise activity for as little as 30 minutes a day can improve your health in many ways and may reduce your risk of stroke.
Enjoy a lower sodium (salt), lower fat diet. By cutting down on sodium and fat in your diet you may be able to lower your blood pressure and, most importantly, lower your risk for stroke.
Ask your doctor if you have circulation problems. If so, work with your doctor to control them. Fatty deposits can block the arteries which carry blood from your heart to your brain. This kind of blockage can cause stroke. Sickle cell disease, severe anemia, or other diseases can cause stroke if left untreated.
If you have any stroke symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.
Following your doctor’s orders for medication and treatment can help reduce your risk of having a stroke.