There are a number of ways you can die suddenly, and many of them are beyond your control. A stroke, for example, can kill you instantly, or at the very least alter your quality of life drastically. It appears one minute unannounced and is gone the next.
But you have a direct influence on some of the major stroke risk factors through the choices you make every day. Although you can’t control your age or family history, you don’t have to sit around and wait for a stroke to occur, either. Each of the following strategies can reduce your risk and help promote a long, healthy life.
1. Lower Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a major risk factor and can double or even quadruple your chances of having a stroke. You can monitor your blood pressure daily at your local pharmacy or by buying your own reader for home use. The ideal blood pressure range is 120/80, but depending on your current blood pressure, 140/90 might be a more appropriate goal. Even a five-point drop in your systolic blood pressure (the top number) offers significant health benefits.
You can lower your blood pressure by getting more exercise—at least 20 to 30 minutes of activity per day—avoiding high-cholesterol foods, limiting salt intake, avoiding processed foods, and eating fruits, vegetables, legumes, and fish.
2. Lose Weight
Weight also plays a role in your risk. Keeping your body mass index at 25 or less has a huge impact on whether or not you will experience a stroke. And if you’re overweight or obese, losing as little as 10 pounds can also significantly reduce the risk.
You can lose weight by cutting down your caloric intake to 1,500 to 2,000 per day, depending on your starting weight (typically 1,500 calories for women, 2,000 for men). Eat nutrient-dense foods such as those mentioned above, which will help you feel full throughout the day.
You can also increase your activity level to shed extra weight, by combining cardiovascular activity such as walking with strength training. Alternating 20-minute sessions each day is a safe starting point, but talk to your doctor before beginning an exercise program.
3. Monitor Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol, when consumed in moderation, may lower your risk for a stroke. It can relax your arteries so that blood flows through them more freely, lowering blood pressure and making things easier on your heart. That said, for this to be true you have to limit your drinking to one or two drinks per day; ideally one. Once you go over two drinks, the risk for a stroke increases drastically. Studies indicate that red wine is the best option, but if that’s not your style, opt for something else. And remember, no matter the size of your glass, one drink is always:
- A 5-ounce glass of wine
- A 12-ounce beer
- A 1.5-ounce glass of hard liquor
Source for Today’s Article:
“7 Things You Can Do to Prevent a Stroke,” Harvard Health Publications, October 9, 2015; http://www.health.harvard.edu//womens-health/8-things-you-can-do-to-prevent-a-stroke?utm_source=delivra&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=GB20160615-Stroke&utm_id=174202&mid=11299132&ml=174202, last accessed June 22, 2016.