Upto 80% of strokes can be prevented. Although stroke can happen to anyone, certain risk factors can increase chances of a stroke. The following stroke prevention guidelines will help you learn how you may be able to lower your risk for a first stroke.
- Know Your Blood Pressure – High blood pressure is a major stroke risk factors if left untreated. Have blood pressure checked yearly by a doctor or with an automatic blood pressure machine.
- Identify Atrial Fibrillation – AF is an irregular heart rhythm that can increase stroke risk by 500%. AF can cause blood to pool in the heart, which may form a clot and cause a stroke. Get tested through your doctor or through a trusted health source so you can share results with your doctor.
- Stop Smoking – Smoking doubles the risk of stroke. It damages blood vessel walls, speed up artery clogging, raises blood pressure and makes the heart work harder.
- Limit Alcohol Use – Alcohol use has been linked to stroke in many studies. Most doctors recommend not drinking or drinking only in moderation – no more than two drinks each day.
- Control Diabetes – Many people with diabetes have health problems that are also stroke risk factors. A doctor and dietician can help manage diabetes.
- Manage Diet/Exercise – Excess weight strains the circulatory system. Exercise five times a week. Maintain a diet low in calories, salt, saturated and trans fats and cholesterol. Eat five servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
- Treat Circulation Problems – Fatty deposits can block arteries carrying blood to the brain and lead to a stroke. Other problems such as sickle cell disease or severe anemia should be treated.
- Lipid Profile Test – Cholesterol is a fatty substance in blood that is made by the body or found in certain foods. High cholesterol levels can clog arteries and cause a stroke. Get screened so you and your doctor know your cholesterol level.
- Get Carotid Artery Ultrasound Screening – Carotid artery disease, or carotid artery stenosis, is the narrowing of the carotid arteries, the two main blood vessels in the neck. This narrowing is usually caused by a buildup of fatty plaque and can restrict flow to the brain and lead to stroke. Getting an ultrasound screening will let you and your doctor know if you have proper blood flow through these arteries.
Sometimes, having a stroke is unavoidable. Your age and family history are factors out of your control. But there are plenty of factors mentioned above that you can control, whether you’ve already had a first stroke, or are taking steps to prevent it.