Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Stroke
This post was sponsored by the American Stroke Association. All opinions are my own.
It’s something that we usually don’t think about until it happens to a friend or loved one – our own personal risk of stroke.
This is especially true if we’re young. However, the truth is that stroke does not discriminate. It can happen to anyone, at any time – and at any age. And if you have a history of stroke in your immediate family, your chances of having one yourself are even higher. Of course, lifestyle factors also play an integral role.
Which leads us to another truth: no time is too soon to take steps to safeguard yourself against having a stroke. The sooner you get started, the better. After all, health is all about the life that you gain.
If fact, you can begin taking steps today, Right now. In conjunction with regular wellness visits to your healthcare provider, with the proper healthy lifestyle changes in place, up to 80% of first strokes may be prevented. Just because it happened to your parents, grandparents, or even a friend or coworker, does not mean that it has to happen to you. A few small steps at a time can create lasting change in your overall risk of stroke.
Here are five ways to reduce your stroke risk starting today:
Keep blood pressure in mind and under control.
Get your blood pressure into a healthy range (under 120/80). High blood pressure is the no. 1 controllable risk factor for stroke. Work with your doctor to make a plan to manage it. Not only will this lower your risk of stroke, it will also help your brain to function better for longer.
There are plenty of ways to keep tabs on your blood pressure. Most major discount stores and grocery stores have designated machines for checking blood pressure. Several retail pharmacy chains have at-home blood pressure monitors available for purchase as well. You can also get your blood pressure checked for free at health fairs in your local community.
Eat all the colorful fruits and veggies.
Eating lots of fruits and vegetables has been shown to lower blood pressure over time, which can help reduce your stroke risk. Some fruits and vegetables are especially rich in vitamins and minerals that improve brain function and heart health – try mangoes, avocados and blueberries.
If you’re stuck on food options, the American Heart Association offers a wide variety of cookbooks that specialize in meals that have been created to help you eat smart and help keep your blood pressure in check.
Getting 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night can improve brain function both today and long-term. Make it happen with a soothing bedtime routine and avoid screen time before bed. Invest in a comfortable mattress and sleep mask. Be mindful of your thermostat setting, make sure that your sleepwear is comfortable, and use a sound machine or other form of ‘white noise’ to help you to stay asleep during the night.
Sleep-related breathing issues may increase stroke risk, so seek treatment right away if you suspect sleep apnea or a similar problem.
Emerging science shows that mindfulness practices and breathing awareness may significantly reduce blood pressure and may improve blood flow to the brain when combined with blood pressure medication. A quick way to be mindful anytime is to pause, notice your breath and take in little details in your surroundings.
Another great way to meditate is to take a few moments in the morning prior to getting out of bed to lay quietly and still. Focus on your breathing or take the time to reflect on the positive things in your life.
Yoga is a perfect way to meditate as well. Try doing a few minutes of yoga in the morning or evening before bedtime. There’s also lots of apps you can use to do yoga on the go during your busy day.
Take a walk.
Getting active activates brain cells, encouraging them to grow and connect more efficiently. Plus, getting active also reduces blood pressure, which reduces your stroke risk.
Walking is one of the simplest ways to move more and increase your physical activity. Walking in a park or a mall, or even through the grocery store all counts.
More easy ways to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine is to replace taking elevators and escalators with stairs, purposely selecting parking spaces farther away when out and about, and even gardening and housework.
For more advanced physical activity on a tight budget or time schedule, there are lots of ways to get a full-body workout at home. Stationary bikes, treadmills, exercise bands, weights, and other home workout equipment can help you increase your daily movement without having to worry about the stress and expenses of going to a gym.
Even if you don’t think that you’re likely to have a stroke, the above lifestyle practices are good ones to follow to improve your overall health. Additionally, it is good to know the warning signs of a stroke and the actions to take should one occur. Stroke is a medical emergency; and recognizing the warning signs and call 9-1-1 immediately can make the difference between a strong recovery and disability or even death.
Remember the most common stroke warning signs by thinking F.A.S.T.:
✔ Face – Drooping or facial numbness. Ask them to smile. Is their smile uneven?
✔ Arm – Arm weakness or numbness. Ask them to raise both arms. Does one drift downward?
✔ Speech – Slurred speech. Are they unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask them to
repeat a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.”
✔ Time – Call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital immediately if someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away. Note the time when the first symptoms appeared.
Additional warning signs of stroke are Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes, sudden trouble walking, dizziness, and loss of balance or coordination, and sudden severe headache with no known cause.
Remember that most strokes are largely treatable if action is taken F.A.S.T. For the best chance of recovery, call 9-1-1 for help. Medical treatment may start in the ambulance.
Healthy habits can protect and improve brain function, which can also lower your stroke risk. Make whole body wellness a priority for you and your loved ones. You can feel stronger, healthier and mentally sharp – and it can also reduce your risk of having a stroke. Remember that you have the power.
Resources to help keep you informed on stroke prevention and brain health:
For more, visit: http://stroke.org/worldstrokeday.