What You Can Do Now to Prevent Stroke Later

Did you know that strokes cause more than 140,000 deaths each year? A stroke can have a devastating impact on individuals and their families. It can cause long-term disability, lower your independence, and rob you of your quality of life. Raising awareness of stroke prevention helps people make changes that protect their brains and lower the chances of having a stroke.

What is a stroke?

A stroke is a medical event that occurs when blood supply to the brain is interrupted. This is a potentially devastating situation because your brain cells rely on oxygenated blood. Without oxygen, brain cells die. A blood clot or severely narrowed artery are the primary causes of strokes. For this reason, adopting a lifestyle that keeps your heart and circulatory system healthy also protects your brain from a stroke.

Risk factors for stroke

Here at Premier Neurology Group, neurology specialist Dr. Ravinder Singh and our team want men and women to know that you don’t have to switch to a severely restricted diet or spend hours a day at the gym to keep your brain healthy -- and it’s never too late to start. No matter your age or condition, there are steps you can take to lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.

The most important step is to learn what puts you at risk in the first place. Major stroke risk factors are:

Other risk factors include being overweight, lack of exercise, and excess alcohol intake. Race also may play a role, with a higher risk in African Americans, Native Americans, and Alaska natives.

Lifestyle changes to prevent stroke

Your daily habits have a powerful impact on your health, and that includes your risk for issues like heart attack and stroke. We’ve put together some information on some of the best ways to keep your brain healthy and prevent stroke.

Manage your blood pressure

Hypertension is a silent condition that can damage your body for years before symptoms are apparent. Many people who have high blood pressure are completely unaware of it. A normal blood pressure is below 120/80. Long-term high blood pressure damages your blood vessels and raises the risk of heart attack and stroke. 

Keeping your blood pressure within a healthy range lowers this risk. Getting your blood pressure checked regularly and knowing what your numbers are is important. If your blood pressure is elevated, diet and lifestyle changes can help bring it down. When that’s not enough, blood pressure-lowering medication can help.

Keep your weight healthy

If you’re overweight, it’s crucial to talk to your doctor about shedding excess pounds. Don’t feel overwhelmed if you’re very overweight. Losing even a modest amount of weight has a significantly positive impact on lowering heart attack and stroke risk.

Know your body mass index (BMI). This is an estimate of body fat based on weight and height. A BMI of 30 or above puts you at a higher risk for a stroke. A healthy BMI is 18.5 to 24.9. You can lower your stroke risk by initially losing just 5-10% of your total body weight.

Prevent and manage diabetes

Preventing chronic conditions like Type 2 diabetes is the key to lowering your risk for stroke. If you have diabetes, keeping your blood sugar within a target range can help prevent stroke. Having diabetes makes you up to two times more likely to have a stroke at some point during your lifetime.

Like high blood pressure, elevated levels of blood sugar can damage blood vessels, paving the way for blood vessels to harden, narrow, and develop clots and fat deposits that can block blood flow to the brain.

Adopt heart-healthy eating habits

Unhealthy food choices can lead to much more than weight gain. Excess sodium combined with other factors can raise blood pressure, while too much saturated fat increases cholesterol, and excess sugar damages blood vessels. What’s more, nutrient-poor foods lack the vitamins and minerals your body needs to function optimally.

Limiting added sugar and eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and heart-healthy fats protects your heart and brain and promotes overall health.

Get moving

Heart-pumping exercise is good for your entire body and brain. Getting regular exercise protects you from heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. With the responsibilities of daily life, it’s easy to put exercise on the back burner, but it’s vital to your health. Make time to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week.

We’ve covered a few steps you can take now to lower your stroke risk. Managing stress and keeping your cholesterol in check can help, too. To learn more about how to protect your brain from stroke, and for top-quality neurological care, call our practice in Beverly Hills, California, at 310-438-5268 to schedule an appointment or book here on our website.

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