Reducing Your Risk of StrokeEn Español (Spanish Version)
Keeping your heart and blood vessels healthy can significantly decrease the risk of most strokes. There are many factors that can affect your cardiovascular health and the more factors you control, the more you reduce your risk of a stroke. Controllable factors include:
If you are overweight or
, talk to your doctor about a plan to lose weight. Adopt a sensible eating plan and exercise regularly. Plan to
gradually, to help you maintain your weight at the desired level. Consider consulting with a dietitian, who can help you with meal planning and portion sizing.
Chemicals in tobacco smoke contribute to the build up of plaque in the arteries, increasing your risk of
. Over time, this increases the risk of blood clots, which can reduce or block blood flow to the brain. Smoking can also cause tightening or spasming of blood vessels which can further restrict blood vessels with plaque.
Quitting smoking is the best way to put yourself on the right track. Talk with your doctor about tools and programs to help you
. Secondhand smoke can be damaging as well, so try to avoid that when possible.
Excess alcohol intake is associated with an increased risk of heart arrhythmias, which can affect blood flow to the brain. If you drink alcohol, aim for moderations. Moderate alcohol intake, means two drinks or less per day for men, and one drink or less per day for women. Some studies have suggested that moderate alcohol consumption be beneficial. If you do drink alcohol, talk with your doctor to determine how much is healthy for you.
Your diet can have a significant impact on your "bad" and "good" cholesterol levels. Managing your cholesterol levels with a well-balanced diet can reduce your risk for a heart attack by reducing the amount of plaque build up.
General recommendations include adding fish, which contains
omega-3 fatty acids
, to your diet at least twice per week. Talk to your doctor about whether you should take omega-3 supplements.
Regular aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, using a stationary bike, or treadmill, can help reduce the risk of stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. This activity can help lower blood pressure, enhance blood circulation, increase good cholesterol, and decrease the demands on the heart. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise per day on most days of the week.
Certain medical conditions are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease or stroke. While not all risk can be eliminated, carefully managing these conditions can greatly decrease the risk of heart problems.
is the biggest risk factor for stroke. If you are being treated for hypertension, adhere to the treatment plan outlined by your doctor. Monitor your blood pressure regularly. Talk to your doctor about checking your blood pressure at home.
Dietary changes, regular exercise, and medications can help you control your blood pressure. The
is a plan designed to help reduce blood pressure.
High blood glucose levels can increase your risk for a stroke by causing damage to smaller blood vessels and contributing to plaque build up on blood vessels walls. Managing blood glucose levels may delay cardiovascular problems that contribute to stroke. If you have
, work with your doctor to develop a plan to manage your blood glucose levels.
(OSA) is characterized by repeated episodes of complete or partial airway obstruction during sleep. The disorder is associated with disrupted sleep patterns and decreased oxygen supply. OSA has been linked to several cardiovascular disorders, as well as early death. Complications of OSA include hypertension,
, and heart attack. Work with your doctor to decrease the incidence or severity of your sleep apnea. This may include using a CPAP machine or surgery.
Ask your doctor whether taking a daily aspirin is right for you. If you are at high risk for stroke, aspirin may prevent one. Since aspirin therapy is not without risk, be sure to consult with your doctor before taking an aspirin a day.
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http://stroke.ahajournals.org/content/early/2010/10/21/STR.0b013e3181f7d043.full.pdf. Accessed June 16, 2014.
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How can a stroke be prevented? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/stroke/prevention.html. Updated March 26, 2014. Accessed June 17, 2014.
Prevention of stroke. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated June 9, 2014. Accessed June 17, 2014.
8/27/2013 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Corella D, Carrasco P, Sorli J, et al. Mediterranean diet reduces the adverse effect of the TCF7L2-rs7903146 polymortphism on cardiovascular risk factors and stroke incidence. Diabetes Care. 2013;6(1):3803-3811.
Last Reviewed December 2014