What You Can Do Now to Prevent a Stroke Later in Life

A stroke occurs when the blood flow to the brain is interrupted. It is one of the main causes of death, and it’s the leading cause of long-term disability among Americans. Most people think a stroke will never happen to them, but if it does, they often regret not making healthy lifestyle choices that may have been able to prevent it.

The good thing is that most strokes can be prevented. In fact, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that 80% of strokes could be stopped by adopting a healthy lifestyle and working closely with your health care provider. 

You don’t have to wait until you’re in your 60s to make changes to lower your risk of suffering a stroke. Now is a great time to make changes. Here are several changes the health specialists at Michigan Neurology Associates & PC suggest you make to keep from suffering a stroke.

Reduce your blood pressure

The leading cause of stroke is high blood pressure. A normal blood pressure range should generally be lower than 120/80, so if yours is often above it, you may have high blood pressure. High blood pressure isn’t something that should be taken lightly. It can greatly increase your chances of suffering a stroke if it’s not properly managed.

Lowering high blood pressure starts with your diet. Aim for a diet low in sodium, with less than 1,500 milligrams of salt a day. Make sure to consume lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean fish. Stay away from processed and high-cholesterol foods, such as fast food, ice cream, and cheese. 

Quit smoking

It’s no secret that smoking isn’t healthy. In fact, you nearly double your risk of having a stroke if you use tobacco products. Individuals who smoke are more likely to get blood clots, because tobacco increases blood volume and fuels plaque buildup in your arteries. 

Quitting may seem like a big hurdle to get over, but it’s one of the best things you can do for your health. There are many products on the market that can help you quit, and there are many support groups that can help you in your effort. Even if you’ve tried to quit before without success, don’t get discouraged. Most smokers attempt to quit several times before kicking the habit for good.

Exercise 

Not exercising can lead to health problems, such as high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity — all of which can increase your likelihood of suffering a stroke. Furthermore, if you have high blood pressure, exercise can help keep you within a healthy range.

You don’t have to sprint three miles or take up kickboxing to effectively exercise. Most people can greatly improve their health by exercising at a moderate pace for 30 minutes, 3-5 times a week. Even if you don’t love the idea of exercising, there are many activities that can help get your heart rate up, whether you enjoy swimming, rock climbing, or walking your dog.

Manage existing health conditions

Make sure to manage any existing health conditions, such as diabetes. People with diabetes are 1.5 times more likely to experience a stroke. 

This can be explained by a diabetic’s high blood sugar levels, which tend to erode blood vessels over time and encourage the buildup of clots. If you have high blood pressure, you should take your medications and check your blood sugar regularly. You should also schedule regular health exams with your primary care doctor to make sure you are within a healthy glucose range.

Atrial fibrillation, also called an irregular heartbeat, is also known to cause strokes. Taking medications and undergoing certain medical procedures can help get your heart pumping at a normal rhythm and ultimately lower your risk of suffering a stroke.

Don’t wait until you suffer a stroke to make lifestyle changes. To learn more about what you can do to prevent having a stroke, book an appointment over the phone with Michigan Neurology Associates & PC today.

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