Follow These Six Simple Guidelines to Reduce Your Risk of Stroke
It is estimated that every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. suffers a stroke. African Americans have a higher prevalence of stroke than any other racial group.
The fifth leading cause of death in America, strokes are caused by a lack of blood flow to the brain, either because an artery becomes clogged or it bursts. Fortunately, experts say that nearly 80% of strokes can be prevented with healthy lifestyle changes. While some risk factors, such as aging and family history, can’t be changed, many things are under your control.
Take these six simple steps to reduce your stroke risk.
1. Monitor and control your blood pressure.
High blood pressure is a huge factor, doubling or even quadrupling your stroke risk if it is not controlled. Regularly monitor your blood pressure. If it is elevated, getting proper treatment is the best thing you can do for your vascular health. Reducing your intake of sodium, increasing the amount of exercise you get, getting stress under control, and quitting smoking can all help to lower your blood pressure. A number of effective prescription medicines are also available, so work with your doctor to determine the best treatment for your needs.
2. Maintain a healthy weight.
Obesity, as well as the complications linked to it such as diabetes, sharply raises the odds of having a stroke. If you're overweight, losing as little as ten pounds can significantly reduce your stroke risk. Your doctor can help you create an effective personalized weight loss strategy.
3. Exercise regularly.
Strive to get some form of exercise at a moderate intensity for 30 minutes at least five days a week. You might walk around the neighborhood every morning after breakfast or take a fitness class with friends. If you don’t have 30 consecutive minutes to exercise, try breaking it up into several shorter sessions throughout the day.
4. Get checked for and treat diabetes.
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, it is important to keep your blood sugar under control. High blood sugar damages blood vessels over time, making clots more likely to form inside them. Monitor your blood sugar levels as directed by your doctor. Use diet, exercise, and any prescribed medicines to keep your blood sugar within the recommended range.
5. Quit smoking.
Smoking accelerates clot formation by thickening the blood and increasing the amount of plaque buildup in the arteries. Along with a healthy diet and regular exercise, smoking cessation is one of the most powerful lifestyle changes that can reduce the risk of stroke. Many assistive devices exist that can help you quit smoking, such as nicotine patches, medications, and counseling. Ask your doctor for advice about the most appropriate way for you to kick the habit.
6. Get LDL cholesterol under control.
Cholesterol is a soft, waxy fat that’s found in the bloodstream. Of the two types of cholesterol, low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL), LDL is the one that can lead to plaque buildup. Getting regular exercise and eating a heart-healthy diet—choosing high-fiber foods that are low in saturated and trans-fats—can have a huge impact on LDL blood cholesterol levels. If your LDL cholesterol levels still won’t budge, a number of effective cholesterol-lowering medications are also available.
You don't have to live like a monk or train like an elite athlete to avoid a devastating stroke. Making regular, modest lifestyle changes and incorporating healthy habits is the best way to reduce your risk.
If you need more information about how to reduce your stroke risk or if we can be of assistance in any way, we are here to help. Please contact us anytime.
About Vaughn Greene Funeral Services: For more than 25 years, Vaughn Greene Funeral Services has been providing a ministry of care to Baltimore’s African American community. As a leading local, minority- and family-owned provider, we promise to provide our highest level of service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved ones. For more information about our funeral, cremation, memorial, and repast services, please call us at 410.655.0015 or visit us online at https://vaughncgreene.com/.