According to a report from Heart.org, stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in Indiana. Heart disease comes in at number one, which is an important underlying condition that can lead to a stroke. With this in mind, we’ve compiled our top five tips for how to prevent a stroke.
- Manage your underlying conditions for stroke
- Eat a healthy diet
- Manage your weight
- Get active
- Quit smoking
By following these tips and with the help of your healthcare team, you’ll be more than prepared to live a stroke-free life.
1. Manage Your Underlying Conditions for Stroke
In order to protect yourself from a stroke, be sure to manage your underlying health conditions. Cholesterol, blood pressure, and diabetes are all risk factors for the disease.
Cholesterol increases your risk of stroke due to the buildup of fat in your arteries. This may lead to a clot, which can result in a stroke. Have your cholesterol levels checked a minimum of every five years. This is a simple blood test administered by your doctor.
High cholesterol levels can be easily managed with medicine and healthy lifestyle choices. Making these changes will help protect you from having a stroke as well as the effects of high cholesterol.
High blood pressure adds extra stress on your blood vessels. In this case, clots that have formed may travel up toward the brain and cause a stroke. It is important to have your blood pressure checked on a regular basis.
Make sure to talk to your health care team about how often you should check your blood pressure. Keeping it in a healthy range will help you avoid vascular disease and stroke.
You have plenty of options for checking your blood pressure. You can do it:
- At home
- At a pharmacy
- In your doctor’s office
Like cholesterol, high blood pressure can be managed with medication and living a healthy lifestyle. Talk to your doctor about what you can do to manage your high blood pressure and avoid having a stroke.
Diabetes increases your risk of stroke due to too much sugar in your blood. Like cholesterol, it can increase fat in your bloodstream. This increases your risk of developing a clot that can make its way to your brain.
You should have your blood sugar levels tested regularly if you have diabetes. Talk with your doctor about your risk for diabetes or if you suspect you have any symptoms. Your healthcare team can help develop a plan to manage your sugar levels to help keep your diabetes under control and reduce your risk of stroke.
Heart diseases such as coronary artery disease increase your risk of stroke due to plaque buildup. This cuts off the circulation of oxygen-rich blood to your brain, which can result in a stroke.
Certain heart diseases such as an irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation) can increase your risk of stroke. In cases like these, medical treatment or surgery may be necessary to protect your heart and overall health. Be sure to talk to your doctor about your risk of heart disease and what you can do about it.
Stay on Top of It
Managing your underlying conditions requires more than one visit to your doctor. Make sure to take your medicine and follow your doctor’s orders to the letter. Ask plenty of questions if you’re confused or want clarification. It’s your health, so make sure that you’re doing everything you can to protect it.
2. Eat a Healthy Diet
Nutrition and stroke prevention go hand-in-hand. Eating a healthy diet is essential for your overall health as it is for preventing a stroke. That’s why it’s important to make good choices whether you’re eating out, at home, or snacking.
When picking a protein, opt for those that are low in saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol. You can find this in fish that are high in omega-3s such as salmon, mackerel, and albacore tuna. When choosing meat, select lean cuts of beef, chicken, pork, and lamb.
Avoid eating too much sodium (salt) since this can lead to high blood pressure. You should also make fruits and vegetables a priority for your plate. By eating a stroke prevention diet, you’ll be making it much easier to manage your weight.
3. Manage Your Weight
Obesity is a serious risk factor for stroke as well as many other health issues. Your doctor will want to determine your body mass index, or BMI, to establish if you’re in a healthy range or not. You can learn your BMI on your own using your height and weight, as well as excess body fat with waist and hip measurements. Check out the CDCs’ Assessing Your Weight to learn how!
4. Get Active
Managing your weight becomes much easier when you combine an active lifestyle with a healthy diet. Becoming more active can do wonders for your health. Not only will it help prevent a stroke, but it can help you manage many other underlying conditions that you may have.
You don’t have to become a gym rat to get active and manage your weight. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, adults need a minimum of 2.5 – 5 hours of moderate aerobic exercise per week. Or you can do 75 – 150 minutes of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity to save time. You can build up from there and add moderate to intense strength training to get the most benefits possible.
5. Quit Smoking
Smoking does all sorts of damage to your body including increasing your chances of having a stroke. Smoking causes your blood vessels to constrict, making it more difficult for blood to circulate to your organs. Think of it like a highway — a healthy vascular system is like driving wide open roads while smoking makes it more like bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Smoking does more than increase your risk of having a stroke. It also puts you at risk for:
- Heart attacks
- Carotid artery disease (CAD)
- Abdominal aortic aneurysms
- Peripheral artery disease (PAD)
Being a smoker doesn’t mean that you don’t have hope since quitting anytime can do wonders for your health outlook. This includes a possibly lower risk of stroke 2 – 5 years after quitting. Give up smoking as soon as possible and reap the benefits of a healthier you!
One of the most important ways to prevent a stroke is by managing your underlying conditions. You should also be eating a healthy diet full of fruits, veggies, and lean proteins. A healthy diet can help you manage your weight, which is a major factor in your risk of having a stroke. You can further reduce your weight and boost your health by being active. Quitting smoking is vital since it constricts your blood flow, causing stroke and other health problems.
Are concerned about your risk of stroke or its underlying conditions? Call us today at (812) 424-8231 or (800) 264-8231 to schedule your appointment!
Evansville Surgical Associates has been providing comprehensive and compassionate surgical care for over 50 years. Call us at (812) 424-8231 or (800) 264-8231. We are available from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm if you would like to schedule an appointment.