How to Prevent a Stroke
This post was first published on wfmchealth.org.
Lower Your Blood Pressure
While a stroke can be caused by a number of things, hypertension is the most common cause. The normal blood pressure for the average person is lower than 120/80. If your blood pressure is consistently above 130/80, you may have hypertension. If you’re not careful to maintain your blood pressure levels, then you’ll be four to six times more likely to have a stroke.
If you are a smoker, your risk of having a stroke is doubled. The nicotine within cigarettes raises your blood temperature while the carbon monoxide decreases the amount of oxygen your blood can carry. This is also the case if you breathe in secondhand smoke.
Keep Your Heart Healthy
In some cases, an irregular heartbeat, also known as atrial fibrillation (AFib), is the cause of ischemic strokes. AFib makes your blood pool into your heart where it may clot. If this clot is allowed to travel to your brain, it might cause a stroke. Anyone can have AFib, but it is especially prevalent in those with high blood pressure, arterial plaque and/or heart failure.
Lay Off the Alcohol
Drinking too many alcoholic beverages raises your blood pressure and your triglycerides. If you’re a male, limit yourself to drinking two alcoholic drinks a day. If you’re a female, only drink one a day. Heavy drinking can cause atrial fibrillation as well.
Eat Healthier Foods
Eating a well-balanced, low-fat diet can significantly lower your blood pressure. Be sure to eat your daily intake of fruits and vegetables. In addition, incorporate lean proteins such as broiled chicken and foods that are high in fiber. Avoid foods that are high in sodium, saturated fat and sugar. Processed foods should also be eaten in moderation. Many are loaded with trans fats, which can increase your blood pressure, clog your arteries and eventually cause a host of other diseases.
If you’ve previously suffered a stroke or you’re at higher risk for having one, it’s important to be proactive. Those at risk should consult with their doctors about more ways to prevent strokes.