A stroke occurs when blood stops flowing to a part of your brain, causing cells to die and damage to areas controlling your memory, muscles and speech. The chances of suffering a stroke may be increased due to your genes, but there are some things you can do to lower the risk.
Monitor your blood pressure
Your blood pressure should ideally be under 120 over 80. The chances of a stroke are increased by not managing high blood pressure. If your blood pressure is high, your doctor may suggest changes to your diet, getting more exercise, or prescribing medication to get it under control.
Get more exercise
Exercising for 30 minutes five times a week will help you to maintain a healthy weight and lower your blood pressure – two things that can lower your odds of having a stroke.
Stress can increase the likelihood of a stroke. Try to maintain a suitable balance between work and life commitments.
Diabetes and high blood pressure are caused by being overweight. Obesity increases your chances of a stroke, so endeavour to exercise regularly and keep your calorie count under 2,000 a day.
Drink in moderation
One drink a day can lower your risk of stroke, but more than two can increase the risk. Drinking heavily can lead to obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes – all of which contribute to a higher risk of a stroke.
Check your cholesterol
Lower your levels of LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol by cutting down on saturated and trans fats, and boost your levels of HDL (‘good’) cholesterol by exercising. If your levels of cholesterol are still not ideal you may need to be prescribed medication by your doctor.
Listen to your heart
An irregular heart rhythm, or atrial fibrillation (AFib), can alarmingly increase your chances of a stroke. You may require medication or a brief electrical shock to lower your heart rate and reduce the risk of blood clots which can lead to stroke.
Manage your diabetes
It is important to watch your blood sugar carefully if you have diabetes. Diabetes increases your chances of a stroke, so be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions.
Increase your fibre intake
Your risk of stroke decreases by 7 per cent for every 7g of fibre you add to your daily diet. Ideally, you should be consuming around 25 grams a day – six to eight servings of whole grains, or eight to 10 servings of vegetables.
Indulge in a little chocolate
Studies have shown that a little dark chocolate a day helps prevent heart attacks and strokes in people with increased risk of having heart disease. The trick, though, is not to overdo it!
Do we really need to spell this one out? Smoking increases the likelihood of blood clots and can thicken and narrow your blood vessels leading to a build-up of plaque – leading to a higher chance of a stroke.
Eat a balanced diet
A balanced diet that includes vegetables, fruits, veggies, lean meats, fish and whole grains can help lower your cholesterol. It also can help protect you from other conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
Take your tablets
Make sure to take your prescribed medication for any conditions you may have, such as blood pressure, diabetes and heart health on time, and as prescribed by your doctor.