Certain stroke risk factors are uncontrollable. But, there are other risk factors that you may change, including as your blood pressure, cholesterol, and many aspects of your lifestyle.
When a blood vessel that supplies the brain with blood and oxygen becomes clogged or disrupted, a stroke occurs. Brain cells can start to deteriorate if they don’t receive enough blood and oxygen.
In the US, stroke is the main factor in adult long-term disability. It’s also the fifth greatest cause of death. You can, however, take precautions to lessen your risk of having a stroke.
There are two main categories for strokes:
- Ischemic stroke: When a blood clot forms or enters a blood vessel, an ischemic stroke happens. It prevents the brain from receiving oxygen and blood. This group includes around 80% of strokes.
- Hemorrhagic stroke: When a blood vessel inside or close to the brain bursts, it causes a hemorrhagic stroke.
Another term you may be familiar with is a transient ischemic attack (TIA). It’s sometimes referred to as a “mini stroke,” and it occurs when blood flow to a portion of the brain is momentarily interrupted. The majority of TIA symptoms go away within 24 hours, however seeking medical assistance is still crucial.
Steps to lower your risk of a stroke
There are two types of risk factors for stroke: those you can manage and those you can’t.
Among the unavoidable risk factors are:
- genetic influences (such as a family history of certain diseases or conditions that increase the risk for stroke)
- gender (stroke is more common in men until age 80; women have a higher lifetime risk)
- age (the older you are, the bigger the danger) (the older you are, the greater the risk)
- ethnicity (Black Americans are more prone to get a stroke)
Yet, many of the risk factors for stroke can be managed, or at least positively impacted, to lower your risks. Changing key aspects of your lifestyle and receiving appropriate medical care can both reduce your risk.
Control your blood pressure
A significant risk factor for stroke is high blood pressure, or hypertension. In fact, high blood pressure is a significant contributing factor in 90% of all strokes. Your risk of stroke increases with increasing blood pressure.
The recommended blood pressure is 120/80 millimetres of mercury (mm Hg). Even a little bit higher blood pressure readings are associated with an increased risk of stroke.
Age doesn’t make blood pressure control any simpler. In fact, 2/3 of persons are classified hypertensive by the age of 65.
Losing weight, engaging in regular exercise, and cutting back on salt consumption all contribute to good blood pressure regulation. In order to lower their blood pressure and lessen the strain on their blood vessels, some patients may also need to take prescription drugs.
According to estimates, maintaining healthy blood pressure can prevent roughly 40% of all strokes.
Manage blood sugar
Stroke risk is significantly increased by diabetes. In fact, stroke causes 20% or more of deaths in adults with diabetes, and prediabetes also increases the risk of stroke.
Diabetes is closely related to other health issues like high blood pressure, obesity, and high cholesterol that raise the risk of stroke.
Stroke risk can be decreased by managing diabetes with lifestyle adjustments like exercise and a low-sugar diet. Some people might additionally require medication to help them maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
Enhance blood cholesterol levels
Lowering LDL levels is only one aspect of good blood cholesterol management. The importance of raising HDL levels cannot be overstated.
In actuality, the two affect stroke types differently. High levels of LDL cholesterol increase the risk of an ischemic stroke, but low levels of HDL cholesterol increase the risk of a hemorrhagic stroke.
Olive oil, avocados, salmon, and nuts are examples of foods high in healthy fats and proteins that may help balance these levels. Statins might be necessary for some persons to lower cholesterol and minimise their risk of developing artery plaque. Plaque can either grow into a complete obstruction or fragment and create a clot.
End your smoking habit
Smokers are 2 to 4 times more likely than non-smokers to suffer from an ischemic stroke, especially among African Americans. In fact, smoking plays a role in around 15% of all stroke deaths that occur each year in the United States.
The good news is that the advantages of quitting smoking begin immediately and last over time. Your chance of developing a stroke as a result of smoking will almost be eliminated within two to four years of stopping.
But giving up might be challenging. Behavioral therapy, counselling, and even some drugs or drug-replacement therapies are offered as forms of support.
Be mindful of your weight.
Obesity and being overweight are major risk factors for stroke. They are also directly related to other health issues, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, which raise your risk of developing a stroke.
A person who is overweight has a 22% higher risk of stroke than someone who is of a healthy weight. Obesity increases risk by 64% for those individualsReliable Source.
Regular exercise and calorie restriction are two healthy weight-management strategies. But some folks won’t find those modifications sufficient. You might be given weight-loss drugs or treatments by your doctor.
As was already indicated, exercise can help reduce some of the major stroke risk factors. Blood sugar and blood pressure are both reduced by it. Moreover, it can aid in weight loss or healthy weight maintenance.
Yet regardless of the additional advantages, regular exercise is a good habit that can lower your risk of stroke. In actuality, those who routinely exercise have a lower risk of stroke and those who do suffer a stroke have a lower mortality rate than those who don’t exercise.
Even if you are not trying to reduce weight, try to exercise most days of the week at a moderate level. This exercise doesn’t have to consist of nonstop treadmill walking. Think about other options like swimming, gardening, and dance.
Consider sleep seriously.
Poor sleep is clearly linked to a higher risk of stroke, according to a growing body of research.
It is well recognised that sleep deprivation contributes to problems like exhaustion, memory loss, anxiety, and depression. Yet, a lack of sleep may also make you more susceptible to having a stroke.
Insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness, sleep apnea, and other sleep disorders have all been associated to stroke. However, having a stroke might make sleep problems worse, raising your risk of having another stroke.
But there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. In reality, studies confirm that getting more than 9 hours of sleep per night significantly increases the risk of stroke.
Emphasis on diet
A healthy diet can have a favourable effect on a variety of problems that increase your risk of stroke in addition to helping you lose weight. For illustration:
Your blood pressure may be lowered by consuming less sodium. Increasing your intake of heart-healthy fats, such as those found in fish and oils, may lower your cholesterol.
It may be simpler to manage your blood sugar levels if you limit your sugar intake.
Moreover, you are not required to concentrate on calorie counting. Focus on consuming more wholesome foods, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fish, and chicken. Limit your consumption of– processed meals, red meat, and simple carbohydrates.
Working closely with your doctor will help you understand how to lower your risk factors as much as possible if you have a higher than average risk of having a stroke.
Thankfully, many of the methods for preventing stroke can also improve other aspects of your health and potentially lower your risk of contracting other illnesses.
But there isn’t a single, effective strategy for preventing stroke. Ultimately, the best long-term effects on your health can be achieved by combining these tactics to address your specific risk factors.
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