A stroke occurs when blood supply to a part of the brain is interrupted. Age makes us more susceptible to having a stroke, as does having a mother father, or other close relatives who have had a stroke.
You can’t reverse the years or change your family history, but there are many other stroke risk factors that you can control provided that you’re aware of them.
Here are five tips to prevent stroke.
- Stop smoking
The harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke damage the blood cells, which in turn can affect the functioning of your heart and blood vessels. This increases your risk of having a stroke. At the same time, smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke increase your risk of lung disease, peripheral vascular disease and strokes. When it comes to stroke prevention, no amount of smoking is safe. Hence, if you smoke, quit today.
- Control blood pressure
High blood pressure is the most important risk factor in stroke prevention. High blood pressure should be treated if it is repeatedly above 140/90 mmHg. If you have diabetes, your blood pressure should be below 130/85 mmHg. In addition to medication, lifestyle plays an important role in controlling blood pressure. Having a healthy diet, reducing your intake of alcohol and salt are some lifestyle measures that reduce blood pressure.
- Maintain an ideal body weight
Obesity is the accumulation of excess body fat. It is associated with various stroke risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. Stroke risk is particularly high with fat deposits around the abdominal region. You can calculate your body mass index (BMI) by using your height and weight. An ideal body weight is maintained by having a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
- Exercise a little each day
Moderate physical activity lowers your chances of stroke. Shoot for 30 minutes of exercise that gets your heart pumping at least five days a week. Brisk walking or swimming is some good choices. On the other two days, do strength training like lifting weights. If you’ve got a tight schedule, break your exercise routine into small chunks. Try a 15-minute walk in the morning and another before lunch.
- Pay attention to your symptoms
Don’t just hope they’ll go away. See your doctor if you feel anything unusual like shortness of breath, changes in your heart rhythm or extreme tiredness. Also, watch for pain in your jaw or back, nausea or vomiting, sweating or flu-like symptoms.