According to the American Stroke Association, approximately 700,000 Americans will suffer a new or recurrent stroke this year. That means, on average, someone in America has a stroke every 45 seconds. Strokes are a leading cause of severe, long-term disability and addressing the associated risk factors can help prevent their often devastating consequences. To help minimize the risk of stroke, consider the following suggestions:
- Control your blood pressure either through lifestyle changes or medication if necessary.
- If you have atrial fibrillation (an irregularity in the heart’s rhythm) work with your physician to find medications or other measures to control it.
- Exercise. People who exercise consistently have better cardiovascular health and a lower risk of suffering a stroke.
- If you smoke, make a plan to quit. Smoking is the leading preventable risk factor for stroke.
- Limit alcohol intake. If you drink alcohol, do so only in moderation. Moderate alcohol intake is defined as no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
- Optimize your cholesterol levels. Get your triglycerides and LDL into a healthier range while increasing HDL by adhering to a healthy diet, exercising regularly and working with your doctor.
- Focus on your diet. Follow an eating plan designed for those with high blood pressure and heart disease, such as the DASH diet – it may be helpful in preventing strokes.
- Focus on avoiding hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. These are the inflammatory trans-fats that are connected to an increased stroke risk.
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