Stroke is one of the most preventable of all life-threatening health problems. Here are steps you can take to reduce your risk of a stroke.
High blood pressure is the single most important stroke risk factor that you can control. A 10 point drop in blood pressure can give you a 40% less chance of having a stroke.
Smoking increases your risk of stroke two to three times. If you stop, your risk for a stroke diminishes quickly within the first year. After five years, you are at the same risk as someone who has never smoked. Exposure to second-hand smoke puts you at twice the risk for a stroke.
Read more about Why Should I Stop Smoking.
The link between high levels of bad cholesterol, LDL, and heart disease are stronger than the connection between bad cholesterol levels and stroke. However, LDL causes atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) which increases your risk of stroke. Keep your cholesterol levels in a good range. This could be achieved, depending on your current situation, by being physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, and/or following a course of medication prescribed by your physician.
Exercise is a major factor in reducing the risk of a stroke. You can cut your chances of having a stroke in half with the right type and amount of exercise. Exercising regularly leads to additional healthy lifestyle choices and can help prevent other chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, lung disease and cardiovascular disease.
Healthy eating can help to lower body weight and the size of your waist. Your Body Mass Index (BMI) level is a good indication of whether or not you are at your ideal body weight. High BMI levels put women at risk of a stroke.
Almost 20 per cent of people who have a stroke are living with diabetes. One reason why individuals living with diabetes have an increased risk of a stroke is because, over time, high levels of blood sugar can damage the blood vessels leading to the brain. Managing the disease well if you have diabetes can substantially reduce your risk of a stroke.
Atrial fibrillation is a heart rhythm disorder that in many people increases the chance of blood clots forming, which can lead to a stroke. If you are prescribed blood thinning medications for atrial fibrillation, take them as prescribed.