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Tips to reduce your stroke risk every day

July 03, 2024
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An American has a stroke every 40 seconds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While you can’t change some contributors to stroke, such as your genetics, age or ethnicity, you can take steps to reduce your stroke risk. It starts with making healthy lifestyle choices.

Here are a few lifestyle changes to start working into your daily routine today.

Manage Your Weight With Healthful Food and Exercise 

Your risk for stroke increases if you’re overweight or obese. Healthy weight loss can reduce your stroke risk and help you avoid a host of other potential health issues.

To obtain and maintain a healthy weight, you should:

  • Eat a nutritious diet with proper portion sizes and plenty of fruits and vegetables.

  • Exercise every day or every other day at a moderate or vigorous pace. Aim for at least 150 minutes of exercise each week.

 

If diet and exercise haven’t helped you lose weight, you may be a candidate for bariatric surgery. St. Luke’s Health offers in-person weight loss seminars to help you learn about this life-changing treatment.

Never Smoke—or Stop Today

In addition to harming your lungs, smoking increases your risk for stroke. That’s because smoking hurts vascular health—how well your blood vessels can do their job.

A few effects of smoking include the following:

  • Causes your blood to clot more easily

  • Increases the amount of fat, cholesterol and other substances in your blood

  • Injures the lining of your blood vessels

  • Narrows and thickens your blood vessels

  • Reduces the amount of good cholesterol in your blood

 

Each of these makes stroke more likely. Even secondhand smoke increases your risk. So, avoid cigarettes and cigarette smoke as much as possible.

Pay Attention to Your Body

Stroke causes sudden numbness, confusion, dizziness and more. Left untreated, it can be fatal or leave you with permanent disability. However, small strokes may not have lasting consequences.

When stroke symptoms come and go in a matter of minutes, it’s called a transient ischemic attack (TIA). These mini-strokes indicate something is wrong. They’re a wake-up call to address the problem before you experience a full-blown stroke. In fact, about 1 in 5 people who have a TIA experience a full-blown stroke within 90 days.

If you think you are experiencing a TIA, seek immediate medical attention, and if you believe you may have had one in the past, schedule an appointment with your doctor for testing and to talk about next steps. Often, TIAs turn out to have been true strokes on further evaluation.

Manage Your Chronic Conditions

Several chronic health conditions increase your likelihood of a stroke. By keeping these conditions under control, you reduce your stroke risk. 

Chronic conditions that increase your risk for stroke include:

  • Diabetes

  • Heart disease

  • High blood pressure

  • High cholesterol

What About Daily Aspirin?

Blood that isn’t sticky moves more freely through the arteries and vessels and reduces stroke risk. Aspirin thins the blood, reducing its tendency to stick together too much. As a result, many people take daily aspirin to keep their blood from getting too thick.

According to new research from the Journal of the American Medical Association, daily aspirin may not always be appropriate.

The study uncovered two key findings:

  • Daily aspirin may not protect against an ischemic stroke. This type of stroke occurs when a clot prevents blood and oxygen from reaching the brain.

  • Taking aspirin every day increases the risk for bleeding in the brain, especially after experiencing head trauma.

 

Despite these findings, aspirin is still considered an effective blood thinner. If you’ve had a stroke in the past or are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease, you may benefit from daily aspirin. Ask your doctor about the right choice for you.

Get Started Today

Stroke risk increases with age, but that’s no reason for younger people to put off prevention. The American Heart Association reports that stroke is becoming more common among people age 49 and younger. Starting on the road to a healthier lifestyle today can help you lower tomorrow’s risk of stroke.

A doctor can provide one-on-one guidance to help you lower your risk of having a stroke. Find a doctor at SLH today to get started.

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