Seven Steps to Avoid Stroke — The chance of living a lifetime without suffering a stroke are more than in your favor by following these easy to follow lifestyle choices if you are serious about staying healthy.
1. Take High Blood Pressure Very Seriously
High blood pressure increases your odds for a stroke up to six times. Be sure to see a BIMC doc if you don’t know your blood pressure or if you’re not sure whether they’re in the healthy zone; 115/75 is a good target for most people and weight loss, exercise, veg-packed meals low in salt and taking time to de-stress can help. And if you’re prescribed BP meds be sure to take them.
2. Smoking is Insane for Your Health
Smoking doubles your risk for an ischemic stroke, the most common type, caused by blood clots and raises your risk for a hemorrhagic stroke, caused by a leaky blood vessel times four. And the good news is it’s never too late to quit so get on an anti-crave medication, nicotine-replacement patches and other products such as sprays and gums, plus a rock-solid support system.
3. Lower Your Bad LDL Cholesterol
High LDL levels can clog your carotid arteries, the big blood vessels at the sides of your neck that send blood to your brain, with fatty plaque. That boosts stroke risk.
Rebalance your LDL cholesterol level by eating fewer saturated fats (in fatty and processed meats, full-fat dairy products and processed foods), enjoying “good” fats (such as nuts, olive oil, fatty fish and avocados) in moderation, and walking 10,000 steps every day, no excuses.
If your BIMC doctor recommends a cholesterol-lowering statin, take it. Studies show that folks with a high stroke risk can lower their odds for a brain attack by 21% by taking a statin. Statins also help to prevent the brain aging that results from a stroke.
4. Control Diabetes
Blood-sugar problems boost stroke risk by 50%. High blood pressure and high cholesterol often come with diabetes. Keep blood sugar in line, too.
5. Eat Well
A Mediterranean diet – full of produce, good fats, fish, beans, plus some nuts, olive oil and red wine in moderation – could reduce your stroke risk by 18%, according to new research from Spain. Your brain will thank you for eating like you’re on a Mediterranean vacation, relaxing on the patio with grilled fish, a big salad and a glass of wine.
6. Get Sweaty
Get 10,000 steps a day. Once you’re doing that, add tennis, gardening or swimming. Any activity that challenges you a little bit cuts odds for “mini-strokes” – transient ischemic attacks, which often presage a full-blown stroke – by 40%. These little strokes double your risk for brain dysfunction and boost your odds for a full-blown stroke five-fold. And they’re common: about 11% of people between the ages of 55 and 65, and 50% of people over the age of 80, have them.
7. Act Fast
If you or a loved one has any signs of a stroke, call BIMC right away. Signs include weakness or numbness on one side of the body; sudden confusion or trouble understanding; trouble talking; dizziness, loss of balance or trouble walking; difficulty seeing or double vision; and/or severe headache. Remember, time lost is brain lost.