Some risks for stroke may be out of a personís control. Risks that cannot be changed include being over age 55, male, African-American, having a family history, or a medical condition such as diabetes.
Lifestyle risk factors include:
- Inactivity (lack of exercise)
- Poor diet
- Alcohol consumption
However, there are risks for stroke that can be controlled. Medical conditions that contribute to an increase risk for stroke that can be managed or controlled include:
- Previous stroke episode
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Atrial fibrillation
It is believed that 80 percent of strokes are preventable. Listed below are stroke prevention guidelines as provided by the National Stroke Association include:
- Know your blood pressure (hypertension) - High blood pressure is a major stroke risk factor if left untreated. Have your blood pressure checked yearly by a doctor.
- If you take blood pressure medicine, take it as prescribed. Check with a doctor before you stop taking the medication.
- Know if you have atrial fibrillation (Afib) - Afib is an abnormal heartbeat that can increase stroke risk by 500 percent. Afib can cause blood to pool in the heart and may form a clot and cause a stroke. A doctor must diagnose and treat Afib. Blood thinning medication can be taken to reduce the risk of stroke. You must follow up regularly with a doctor if you are on a blood thinner. Always check with the doctor before you stop taking this medicine.
- Stop smoking and using tobacco products - Smoking doubles the risk of stroke. It damages blood vessel walls, speeds up artery clogging, raised blood pressure and makes the heart work harder. Stopping smoking today will immediately begin to decrease risk.
- Limit alcohol use - Alcohol use has been linked to stroke in many studies. Most doctors recommend not drinking or drinking only in moderation; no more than two drinks each day. Remember that alcohol may negatively interact with other drugs you are taking.
- Know your cholesterol levels - High cholesterol levels can clog arteries and cause a stroke. See a doctor if your total cholesterol level is more than 200.
- Control diabetes - You doctor can prescribe a nutrition program, lifestyle changes and medicine. Know your blood sugar level and your hemoglobin A1C if you have diabetes
- Manage exercise and diet - Excess weight strains the circulatory system. Maintain a diet low in calories, salt, saturated and trans fats and cholesterol. Eat as least five servings of fruit and vegetables daily. Cardiovascular exercise for 30 minutes per day, five days a week.
- Treat circulation problems - Fatty deposits can block arteries
To learn more about stroke, visit http://www.stroke.com
Published: May 23, 2012