Strokes have been negatively affecting the general population’s health for decades. In fact, almost 800,000 Americans experience a stroke each year. If you break it down, that’s about one stroke happening every forty seconds. While strokes can cause death, it is possible to be a stroke survivor. However, many survivors continue to struggle with the lasting physical damage and negative side effects strokes can cause.

A stroke is a very serious medical emergency. With the possibility of happening at any age, place, and time, strokes are a danger to the old and young alike. However, you don’t have to live your life in fear of an impending stroke.

This month, take control of your health by learning how to prevent a stroke from happening. While there are some stroke risk factors you can’t control, there are ways to reduce your chance of having a stroke. In fact, 80% of strokes are preventable. Keep reading to learn how you can reduce your risk of stroke. Pay close attention, what you learn here could help save a life.

Lower Your Blood Pressure

If you have high blood pressure, you are doubling, even quadrupling your risk of stroke. It is important that your work with your doctor to monitor your blood pressure and get it under control. Ideally, you want to maintain a blood pressure that is less than 135/85, or in some cases less than 140/90.

High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of increased stroke risk in both men and women. Treating elevated blood pressure is one of the best things you can do to minimize your risk of stroke while simultaneously improving your vascular health.

There are a number of ways to achieve this, including:

  • Reduce your salt intake to no more than 1,500 mg a day. That’s approximately half a teaspoon of salt.
  • Avoid foods that are high in cholesterol, like fatty meats, refined grain products, and saturated fats.
  • Eat 4-5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
  • Consume 1 serving of fish 2-3 times every week.
  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes each day.
  • Quit smoking.

Following these healthy habits will lower your blood pressure and your risk of stroke.

Quit Smoking

Not only is smoking bad for your lungs, it can also accelerate clot formation. Smoking thickens your blood and causes plaque buildup to increase in the arteries. Ending your smoking habit is one of the best lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of stroke.

You can achieve your goal of smoking cessation by doing the following:

Consult with your primary doctor to figure out the most best way for you to quit.
Use effective quit-smoking aids like nicotine pills, medicine, or counseling.
Never give up. It takes many tries for most smokers to successfully quit. Each try is a step closer towards your goal of a healthier, longer life.

Exercise More

Adding exercise to your daily routine is a fantastic way to minimize your chances of having a stroke. In fact, it’s a great way to achieve a number of health goals. Not only does it help lower your blood pressure as previously mentioned, exercise also acts as an independent stoke reducer. Research shows consistent moderate exercise can reduce your risk of stroke by a whopping 27%.

The American Heart Association advises adults to get at least 150 minutes of moderate to intense exercise a week. Or, at the very least, 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity. Here are some activities you can try to increase the amount of exercise in your weekly routine:

  • Start a fitness group with friends.
  • Exercise to the level where you are breathing hard, but are still able to talk.
  • Add more movement in your daily routine, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Take a stroll through the neighborhood after breakfast or during your lunch break.
  • Swim some laps at the local pool.
  • Explore local hiking trails.

Doing any of these activities on a regular basis is a smart way to meet your weekly exercise requirements.

Lose Weight

Being overweight can lead to a series of health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and increased chances of having a stroke. Losing as little as 10 pounds can have a huge effect on your stroke risk. Speak with your primary health care physician to discuss a weight loss strategies and realistic, achievable weight loss goals. Once you start shedding those extra pounds, you’ll also start shedding your risk of stroke.

As you can see, there are a number of ways you can reduce your risk of stroke. You can decrease your chances of experiencing a stroke by living an active lifestyle, maintaining a healthy weight, and making health-conscious decisions. Protect yourself and the health of your loved ones practicing these healthy habits. Make sure to share this vital information with your friends and family. Together we can eliminate the threat of stroke in our community.

Want to learn more ways you reduce your chances of stroke? Speak to your local health care provider to address any questions or concerns you may have. If you live in Monterey County, consider reaching out to Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice. Their award-winning nurses are ready to help you achieve your health goals and reduce your chances of stroke.