Did you know that strokes, also known as brain attacks, are very similar to heart attacks? Most strokes are caused by a blocked artery (blood clot), while the rest happen when a blood vessel ruptures. By taking measures to avoid stroke, you’ll be helping yourself avoid heart disease, too. Here are ten tips, then, to help you do just that–and happily for some readers, avoiding coffee is not one of them.
Get high blood pressure under control
Healthy blood pressure (BP) is vital to minimizing stroke risk. Control your weight and exercise regularly to help keep your BP down. But if–despite your efforts–your BP remains elevated at 140/90 or higher, consult your physician about treatment.
Keep your weight down and exercise
There are many reasons why maintaining a normal weight and exercising regularly reduce your chances of having a stroke. To learn what a healthy weight is and how to maintain it with exercise, see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Healthy Weight center.
Eat more produce and less red meat
Eat at least five servings daily of fruits and vegetables. Not sure what a serving size is? This portion size page should help. The Mayo Clinic suggests that eating a low-meat Mediterranean diet may be beneficial.
Get cholesterol levels under control
Cholesterol is complex, as there is “good” and “bad” cholesterol. Avoid saturated fat and trans fat, and exercise to increase “good” cholesterol (it helps remove the bad kind). If diet and exercise don’t keep your cholesterol levels in check, see your doctor.
To drink or not to drink (alcohol)
Heavy drinking of alcoholic beverages increases your risk of stroke, though studies seem to indicate that not all alcohol is bad. Drinking 1 to 2 drinks a day may actually lower your risk of stroke, according to the National Stroke Association.
Don’t do drugs or smoke tobacco
Drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine increase stroke risk, as does smoking.
People with diabetes have a four times higher chance of having a stroke than non-diabetics, so it is imperative to follow all your doctor’s recommendations for controlling diabetes.
Get checked for atrial fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation is a heart condition that leads to blood clot formation.
Do you snore? Ask your doctor about sleep apnea
According to the National Stroke Association, more than half of all stroke victims have sleep apnea, which decreases a person’s oxygen level and increases blood pressure.
For women only
Women who experience aura migraines are much more likely to have a stroke, and smoking raises the odds by a whopping 900%. Stopping smoking is advised! Also, consult your doctor when taking birth control pills and when pregnant, as these may increase stroke risk. For details on women’s stroke risk, see L. C. Cool’s Yahoo! Health article.
“Brain Basics: Preventing Stroke” – National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
“Stroke Prevention” and “Controllable Risk Factors” – National Stroke Association