Diseases & Conditions

5 Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Stroke

By on 10/23/2017

You can’t control every risk factor for stroke but here are five things you can do to lower your risk.

When many people think of stroke, they assume it’s something that happens mostly to older men. But stroke affects people of both genders and can happen at any age. Although men have more strokes than women, women’s survival rates are lower.

You may not be able to control every risk factor for stroke, like your age, but there are a number of factors you can do something about. Here are five steps you can take to lower your stroke risk.

  1. Lower blood pressure. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for stroke, especially if it’s untreated. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can more than double your risk of stroke. Get your blood pressure checked regularly at the doctor. If yours is high and your doctor prescribes medicine, take it even if you feel fine. Lifestyle changes can also help lower blood pressure, like reducing the sodium in your diet, quitting smoking, reducing stress and exercising more.
  2. Control your cholesterol. Blood cholesterol clogs arteries and can cause stroke. If your total cholesterol is more than 200, you can take steps to lower it naturally by eating healthier, exercising, quitting smoking, losing weight and reducing stress. Sometimes lifestyle changes are not enough to lower your cholesterol to a healthy level. When that occurs, you may require medication.
  3. Limit alcohol use. Some studies show that moderate consumption of alcohol (one drink a day) can lower your stroke risk. But if you drink more than that, your risk goes up quickly. If you drink, do so only in moderation.
  4. Stop smoking. Smoking doubles the risk of stroke. Not only does it damage blood vessels and clog arteries, but it also raises blood pressure and puts extra strain on the heart.
  5. Lose weight. Being overweight is hard on your heart, blood vessels and arteries. Losing just 5-10 percent of your weight can lower your stroke risk. Help control your weight by eating healthy and exercising. Aim to exercise five times a week for 30 minutes. If you can’t fit a 30-minute workout in, even small bouts of extra activity add up during the day.

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Date Last Reviewed: September 5, 2017

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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