7 Proven Strategies to Slash Your Stroke Risk

Strokes are a leading cause of death and disability worldwide, with experts projecting that stroke deaths will climb 50% to nearly 10 million by 2050.

But there’s good news – up to 80% of strokes are preventable by making smart lifestyle choices.

Incorporate these seven strategies, ranked by importance, into your daily routine to dramatically reduce your risk of experiencing a life-altering stroke.

1. Keep Your Blood Pressure in Check

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High blood pressure is the number one controllable risk factor for stroke, with hypertension present in 77% of first-time stroke patients. Keep your blood pressure below 120/80 mm Hg by reducing salt intake, eating a balanced diet, managing stress, and taking medication if prescribed by your doctor.

2. Quit Smoking

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Smoking doubles your risk of ischemic stroke and increases your chances of hemorrhagic stroke up to 3.5 times. The toxic chemicals in cigarette smoke thicken your blood and damage the function of your blood vessels.

Quitting smoking is one of the most impactful steps you can take to slash stroke risk.

3. Maintain a Healthy Weight

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Obesity increases stroke risk by 64% compared to maintaining a healthy weight. Excess body fat raises blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood sugar, all of which heighten stroke risk.

Aim to keep your BMI under 25 and your waist circumference below 35 inches for women or 40 inches for men.

4. Get Moving

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Regular physical activity reduces stroke risk by 27%. Exercise helps control blood pressure, weight, and cholesterol levels. Aim for at least 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise.

Find activities you enjoy to stay motivated.

5. Eat a Stroke-Smart Diet

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A diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy proteins can lower stroke risk by up to 30%. Fill at least half your plate with colorful produce, choose lean proteins, and minimize saturated fats, trans fats, and added sugars.

Limit sodium to under 2,300 mg daily.

6. Manage Diabetes

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Having diabetes quadruples your stroke risk. Keep blood sugar levels well controlled through diet, exercise, weight loss and medication to protect your blood vessels.

Aim for an A1C level below 7%.

7. Treat Sleep Apnea

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Sleep apnea is present in 50-80% of stroke patients and can increase stroke risk by 2-4 times. This sleep disorder causes pauses in breathing that decrease oxygen flow to the brain.

Treat sleep apnea with lifestyle changes, CPAP therapy, or oral appliances.

Common Misconceptions

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Misconceptions about stroke are common. Contrary to popular belief, strokes can occur at any age – 10-15% of stroke patients are between 18-45 years old. Stroke symptoms like facial drooping, arm weakness and slurred speech can be subtle but shouldn’t be ignored.

Calling 911 immediately is critical, as every minute 1.9 million brain cells die. Taking aspirin is not advised during a stroke as it could worsen a hemorrhagic stroke.

By understanding the truth about stroke and taking proactive steps to reduce your risk factors, you can prevent this devastating “brain attack” and protect your health. Small daily choices add up to a lifetime of benefits.

Start slashing your stroke risk today – your brain will thank you!

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Martha A. Lavallie
Martha A. Lavallie
Author & Editor | + posts

Martha is a journalist with close to a decade of experience in uncovering and reporting on the most compelling stories of our time. Passionate about staying ahead of the curve, she specializes in shedding light on trending topics and captivating global narratives. Her insightful articles have garnered acclaim, making her a trusted voice in today's dynamic media landscape.