Currently standing as the fifth cause of death in the United States and claiming the lives of 6.2 million people every year worldwide, strokes ought to be considered a health hazard of the first magnitude. Unfortunately, most of us either lack the information to tackle this issue appropriately, or simply choose to look the other way, as we’re just unable to handle it from an emotional standpoint. This, of course, serves no purpose other than making things worse.
Now, although some risk-factors of suffering a stroke (like age and heritage) are beyond our control, there’s still much we can do in order to prevent this condition from ever occurring to us and our loved ones. Here, we include some of the measures most experts recommend we take to reduce our chances of suffering from a stroke.
1. Information: The keys to health risk management
There are certain risk factors commonly associated with having a stroke and it’s important that you’re aware of them and act on that information accordingly. Having frequent health check-ups is a must, particularly when you’re experiencing certain medical conditions that make you more susceptible. Also, it’s highly advisable you stay informed of what’s going on in the medical world, as new breakthroughs happen in medicine on a daily basis. Read on to learn more.
2. Keep Blood Pressure Under Control
Asymptomatic hypertension (a medical condition where blood pressure is persistently over 140/90) is strongly related to an elevated risk of developing cardiovascular disease in both men and women. The most common reason being is that high blood pressure tends to weaken your arteries, making them more prone to being obstructed and forming a blood clot.
Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do in order to make sure your blood pressure stays at healthy levels, such as reducing your salt intake, changing your diet and keeping your weight in check. Being overweight and having high blood pressure often go side-by-side.
3. Quit Smoking
Studies suggest between 20% and 25% of all strokes occurring in the United States are directly related to smoking. Now, with almost 800,000 strokes taking place in the US annually, that means around 160.000 lives are put at risk every year in the USA alone due to this unhealthy habit. Even being exposed to second-hand smoke can be dangerous to your health. They facilitate both the formation of blood clots and the accumulation of plaque inside your arteries, making it all the more probable for strikes to occur.
4. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Being overweight is another major stroke risk factor you can control. Keeping calorie intake between 1,500 and 2,000 a day can help you remain at a healthy weight, as well as prevent certain complications associated with obesity, such as diabetes. Of course, the amount of physical activity you carry out daily is also crucial.
5. Keep Moving
So, we may have adapted quite well to a sedentary life in the last few thousand years but, unfortunately, our bodies have not. When it comes to stroke prevention, the amount of physical activity you perform every day is critical. Not only does it have a strong influence on your body’s ability to keep a healthy weight and keep blood pressure under control, but studies show it also helps reduce stress and depression, which are also major risk factors.
Getting enough exercise to remain in good condition shouldn’t be hard, either. Simple things like taking a walk daily for half an hour or using the stairs whenever possible may go a long way. Or getting off the bus a mile from work, and walking the rest, if that’s your mode of transport. Some people buy pedometers but if you have a smartphone, our advice is simply to use GPS and track how many miles you walk – instead of aiming for steps, aim for miles – it’s much more accurate.
6. Eat Healthily
Leading a healthy lifestyle is of paramount importance in order to prevent a stroke. Most experts recommend including vegetables of all subgroups, fruits, and grains in your diet while reducing the number of high-cholesterol foods such as red meat. Cholesterol contributes to plaque formation in the arteries and is strongly associated with cardiovascular disease. Added sugar should also be limited as much as possible, while sodium intake should not exceed 2,300 mg per day. There’s already too much salt in our foods as it is, without the need to lean over for the table salt and add even more!
7. Mind Over Matter: Reduce Stress
Even though the exact mechanisms linking stress and stroke occurrence are not completely understood yet, the association between the two definitely exists. In any case, stress hormones are related to well-known stroke risk factors, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, atherosclerosis, and heart disease.
Fortunately, the path leading to a healthy mind often has a lovely view. Meeting friends, practicing your favorite sport or even taking the time to go on holiday frequently can help you deal with stress. The beneficial effects of disciplines like Yoga have been proven as well, as the increase in their popularity in recent years clearly shows. If you can reduce stress you’ll help to reduce things such as blood pressure which in turn helps you physically. Your mind certainly has an impact on your body.