How to Prevent Stroke? According to the World Health Organization, stroke is the 2nd leading cause of death worldwide and the 5th leading cause of death in the United States. In 2020 it was estimated that 1 in every six deaths from cardiovascular conditions in the US was due to stroke.
Every 40 seconds, someone in the US experiences stroke, while every 3.5 minutes, a person dies from stroke, causing approximately 137,000 deaths every year.
Stroke is also one of the country’s most expensive health problems. It’s an extremely serious condition that’s often accompanied by severe disability, but there are things you can do to lower your risk of stroke significantly.
For most people, prevention may seem like an uphill battle when you have no control over what factors cause it, but luckily there are many ways to lower your risk of stroke if you know what to look out for, such as high blood pressure and obesity. Learn more about how to prevent stroke here.
What Is A Stroke?
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of your brain is interrupted or reduced, depriving it of oxygen and nutrients.
This can happen because of a clot that blocks the blood flow (ischemic stroke) or a blood vessel that ruptures and spills blood into the brain (hemorrhagic stroke).
You may be at increased risk for stroke if you have high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, or a history of strokes. But there are many things you can do to lower your risk.
Stroke Risk Factors
The most important step you can take to lower your stroke risk is to pay attention to common stroke risk factors and work to eliminate as many as possible from your life. Here are some of the most common risk factors for stroke, so that you can see where you might be at risk and take action to lower it.
Age is the biggest risk factor for stroke. About two-thirds of strokes occur in people over age 65. As you get older, your arteries harden and narrow, which increases the risk of stroke.
But even if you’re young, you’re not immune – about 10% of strokes occur in people under age 45. In fact, it’s more common than heart attacks among those aged 15 to 44. The more you’re at the age-gap risk, the more you need to be careful with your overall lifestyle habits.
Having a stroke is often thought of as a man’s disease, but women are just as likely to have a stroke as men. In fact, women’s risk of stroke increases after menopause.
There are some risk factors that are unique to women, such as pregnancy and taking birth control pills. Plus, certain medical conditions that are more common in women, such as migraines and autoimmune diseases, can also increase your risk of having a stroke.
According to the American Heart Association, African Americans have the highest risk of stroke. This is due in part to higher rates of hypertension, diabetes, and obesity. Other risk factors include smoking, high cholesterol, and a family history of stroke.
African Americans are also more likely to die from a stroke than any other demographic group. For instance, Asian American women have a lower chance of having a stroke because they’re less likely to be overweight or obese.
There are many different vascular conditions that can lead to an increased risk of stroke. Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, is one of the most common. This condition narrows the arteries and reduces blood flow to the brain.
Other conditions include carotid artery disease, which is the narrowing or blockage of major blood vessels supplying the brain.
Another vascular condition that can increase the risk of stroke is cerebral venous thrombosis, which is a clot in the veins that drain blood from the brain. This may cause blood cells to break and leak blood into the brain tissues causing hemorrhage.
Many different medications can increase your risk of stroke. These include blood thinners, cholesterol-lowering drugs, estrogen, birth control pills, and more. If you are taking any of these medications, it is important to talk to your doctor about your risks.
If possible, you may need to be monitored closely or switched to a safer medication. It’s also important to mention all the medications you’re on when seeing a doctor for any other reason so they can keep track of all the possible interactions between them.
History Of Heart Disease, Diabetes, Or Obesity
If you have a history of heart disease, diabetes, or obesity, you’re at an increased risk for stroke. That’s because these conditions can damage and narrow your blood vessels, making it harder for blood to flow to your brain. Plus, they can also cause inflammation and make your blood more likely to clot.
Warning Signs Of Stroke
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, here are the signs you should keep in mind:
- Sudden confusion: Trouble speaking or difficulty understanding speech
- Sudden difficulty in walking: loss of balance, lack of coordination, and dizziness
- Sudden difficulty seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden weakness or numbness in the face, arm, or leg, mostly on one side of the body
- If you or someone you know has these symptoms, call 911 immediately
How to Prevent Stroke
1. Regular Exercise
We all know that regular exercise is important for our overall health, but did you know that it can also help lower your risk of stroke? That’s right when you exercise, your heart muscle gets stronger. This allows your heart to pump more blood with each beat and lowers your resting heart rate.
Exercise also helps lower blood pressure by making blood vessels more flexible. This reduces the strain on your heart and lowers the risk of a blood clot forming, which can block blood flow, causing a stroke.
It’s recommended to have at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise per week, or an equivalent combination thereof.
-Even light physical activity can be beneficial to health, such as taking the stairs instead of elevators. Unfortunately, most Americans don’t get anywhere near enough physical activity. So if you’re not getting enough already, now’s a good time to start! Benefits Of Cardiovascular Exercise.
2. Get Enough Sleep
Getting enough sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Not only does it help you feel rested and refreshed, but it also helps your body heal and repair itself.
Lack of sleep has been linked to a number of health problems, including stroke. Studies have shown that people who get less than six hours of sleep per night are up to four times more likely to have a stroke than those who get eight hours.
One study found that adults who slept seven-eight hours each night were 25 percent less likely to develop stroke compared to those who slept less or more. In the study, people who slept longer (at least 8 hours a day) had the highest risk, the same as those who slept less than seven hours. This shows that all you need is the right amount of sleep, as too much or too little can still increase your risk.
In addition, researchers found that those who slept six hours or less were four times more likely to die from any cause. The connection between short sleep duration and death was stronger in women than in men. It’s not clear why women suffer worse consequences when they don’t get enough sleep, but scientists speculate that hormones may play a role.
Researchers recommend getting seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night if possible. If you aren’t able to sleep this long at one time, try napping for 15-20 minutes at midday.
Avoid too much caffeine: Drinking caffeinated beverages might make you awake and alert, but too much caffeine can disrupt your natural sleep cycle by affecting how quickly you fall asleep and how long you stay asleep.
Also, a lack of sleep lowers your body’s ability to regulate blood pressure and blood sugar levels. This can lead to high blood pressure and diabetes, both of which are risk factors for stroke. In addition, lack of sleep also causes inflammation, which can damage the blood vessels and lead to a stroke. What To Do If I Can’t Sleep.
3. Maintain A Healthy Weight
There are many health risks associated with being overweight, and one of the most serious is stroke. When you carry too much weight, your blood pressure, and heart rate increase, which strains your cardiovascular system.
This can lead to a build-up of plaque in your arteries, which can eventually cause a stroke. Being overweight also increases your risk of developing diabetes, another major stroke risk factor. If you are carrying extra weight, it is important to take steps towards losing it safely. Lifestyle Changes To Lose Weight Permanently.
4. Avoid Smoking
Smoking is one of the most important preventable risk factors for stroke. It’s estimated that smoking accounts for about 20% of all strokes. The risk of a person who smokes having a stroke increases with each cigarette smoked per day, but even if you’ve been smoking for years, quitting will still help lower your risk of stroke
If you smoke, talk to your doctor about ways to quit. There are many resources available to help you, including nicotine replacement therapy and counseling. Quitting smoking is hard, but it’s worth it. Your risk of stroke will go down and you’ll feel better overall. Dangers Of Smoking and Dangers Of Vaporing.
5. Manage Stress
Stress may be something you’ve heard a lot about, but what exactly is it? It is the body’s reaction to emotional pressure, physical injury, or anything that causes a fight or flight response. Stress Management.
During this response, the body increases blood pressure and heart rate to give us more energy to deal with the threat we perceive at hand. However, when this response becomes constant instead of occasional, our cardiovascular health begins to suffer, leading to serious health problems like stroke and heart attack.
Here are some easy ways to manage stress and lower your risk of stroke.
- Take a walk outside or take some deep breaths when you feel stressed
- Use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques to change your thinking patterns and the way you react to stressful situations
- Do something you enjoy – whether it’s cooking, painting, or gardening – whatever brings joy into your life is good for your body and soul.
- Expressing gratitude will also reduce stress by recognizing all that we have in our lives that’s positive.
- Get regular exercise. Exercise can help reduce stress by releasing endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects.
- Practice relaxation techniques. Try activities like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises to help you relax.
6. Maintain Healthy Blood Pressure
One of the best things you can do for your health is to maintain healthy blood pressure. High blood pressure is a significant risk factor for stroke, so it’s important to keep it under control. You can make a few simple lifestyle changes to help lower your blood pressure and reduce your stroke risk. Natural Ways To Reduce Pressure.
- Lose extra weight, especially belly fat
- Exercise regularly
- Limit your salt intake (you may need to carefully read labels and avoid processed food)
- Limit your alcohol intake (Drinking alcohol not only increases blood pressure but it can also reduce your blood pressure medication)
- Avoid smoking
- Get enough sleep
- Eat more potassium-rich foods like bananas and oranges
- Limit your intake of coffee, or avoid it altogether
7. Eat Well
Eating a healthy diet is one of the best things you can do to prevent stroke. Focus on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Limit salt, saturated fat, and added sugar. Eating well can help you maintain a healthy weight, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and improve your overall health. See Healthier Steps Recipes.
8. Take Your Meds
If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes, it’s important to take your medications as prescribed. Doing so can help prevent stroke by controlling your blood pressure and cholesterol.
Stroke can be frightening to live with, but it doesn’t have to be a death sentence if you know how to prevent it. A stroke occurs when the blood flow in the brain becomes blocked.
There are many things you can do to help keep your risk as low as possible, including eating healthy, getting enough sleep, maintaining a healthy weight, lowering blood pressure, and staying on track with your medication.
Knowing how to identify stroke when it occurs is also essential to ensure you call for help before any further damage, including death.
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