How to Prevent a Stroke
Strategies to help prevent a stroke
A stroke is often a life-altering event. It is a leading cause of death in America, and one of the biggest causes of disability. Changes in brain health can have an effect on bodily functions that help you live a normal life. Since a stroke is caused by altered blood flow to the brain, prevention starts with strategies for optimizing the health of your brain, heart, and blood vessels. In this article, we will review strategies on how to prevent a stroke.
Heart Health Management
With heart disease being the top cause of death in the U.S., managing your heart health is essential. Heart attacks share many of the same risk factors as having a stroke. High blood pressure is a common issue that significantly increases risk of stroke. Additionally, high cholesterol or an irregular heartbeat are risk factors that should be addressed to reduce your stroke risk. Get regular heart checkups and talk to your doctor about options for any heart issues that are found. This may include medication and any of the lifestyle modifications listed below.
Making Good Lifestyle Choices
Making healthy daily choices supports both brain health and overall body health. Leading a healthy lifestyle is one of the most effective and cost efficient ways to prevent a stroke. Here are a few suggestions:
- Weight Loss. If you are overweight or obese, losing weight will reduce your risk of developing comorbidities (such as diabetes) and thus your risk of stroke.
- Quit Smoking. Smoking tobacco damages the lining of blood vessels and increases your risk for stroke, heart attack, and lung cancer.
- Manage Stress Levels. Chronic stress has been linked to high blood pressure, increased heart rate and cholesterol levels, which puts you at a greater risk for stroke.
- Exercise. Moving your body is one of the best things you can do for your overall health, including your brain health. Aerobic exercise has been shown to improve blood flow and overall vascular health.
- Eat a Healthy Diet. Eating a nutrient dense heart healthy diet is important for maintaining a healthy weight, reducing cholesterol levels, and keeping blood pressure in check. Talk to your doctor or a nutritionist for personalized recommendations.
- Drink in Moderation. Drinking too much alcohol can increase your risk of high blood pressure and stroke. It is recommended that women drink no more than one drink per day and men no more than two.
Regular Screening and Monitoring
Getting regular screenings and monitoring is essential for early detection of any health issues that may increase your risk for stroke. Routine checkups with your doctor can help to track blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and weight; all of which are important factors in heart health, brain health, and stroke prevention. If they suspect any issues, they can order additional testing as needed.
You should monitor your own health at home as well. Staying tuned into your own body and symptoms can help you quickly notice any subtle changes that you should bring to your doctor's attention. Keep track of how you feel with your daily routine, including exercise, brain stimulating activities (such as reading, conversation, and puzzles), and even sleep.
Since approximately 20-30% of strokes occur at night, if you're at a risk for a stroke it can be a game changer to have a way to effectively track your brain health at night. New technology that assesses your brain activity while you're sleeping and alerts you to any changes is paving the way to preventing the damaging effects of a stroke even in your sleep. Visit zeitmedical.com to learn more about a new technology being used to monitor for strokes.
To prevent a stroke, start with making some simple healthy changes to your daily routine. Benjamin Franklin once said “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Small steps today can make a big difference to your health down the road. Be sure to get regular screenings and monitoring from your doctor to catch any potential issues early on. There are many things you can do to proactively take control of your health and reduce your risk for stroke.
If you are concerned you are having symptoms of a stroke, call 911 immediately. Schedule a visit with your doctor if you have any further questions.