When a stroke occurs the outcome can be devastating.
A stroke may cause severe brain damage, long-term disability, and in worst cases even death.
Every year about 800,000 people experience stroke – either the first time or as a re-occurrence. After heart disease, cancer and chronic lower respiratory disease stroke is the 4th most frequent cause of death in the United States.
Treatment of consequences of stroke can be effective, but in some cases the damage done is irreversible for the patient.
Therefore, preventive measures are highly advised, especially if you are in higher risk population, meaning you are:
- older than 55,
- have a family history of stroke,
- African American,
- have experienced stroke before.
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In order to prevent stroke from even happening, preventive measures are advised. Here’s a list of 7 habits you should practice in order to minimize your chances of experiencing a stroke.
1. Keep your blood pressure levels under control
Normal blood pressure level is 120/80 mmHg, ideally lower.
Try to keep your blood pressure somewhere around this number. Even if your measured number after screening is higher than the above number do not worry about it too much. Just make sure you do everything you can and try to lower blood pressure naturally. Here’s a couple of things you can do in order to do this.
High blood pressure (above 140/90 mmHg) increases the risk of stroke and may also contribute to the development of other diseases such as heart disease and cerebrovascular disease.
If your blood pressure is chronically elevated and will not decrease, drugs will be prescribed to you. You should consult your personal doctor.
2. Decrease your cholesterol intake
If your diet is rich in cholesterol you should consider altering your diet and avoid foods such as eggs, bacon or butter. You do not have to exclude these foods, just eat them less often. Read more about low cholesterol diet.
3. Control heart disease
Heart disease may be present at birth or it can develop later in life (is inherited). It may also develop as a result of poor lifestyle (obesity), untreated high blood pressure or diabetes.
There are ways to treat heart disease, depending on the cause of the disease. Schedule regular check ups with your doctor to early detect heart disease.
4. Live an active lifestyle
Being overweight or obese will increase the chance of stroke. Calculate your body mass index here and see whether you are overweight or not. In any case you should maintain a healthy weight by exercising often and proper diet.
In extreme cases a surgical procedure is required in order for a patient to lose extra weight. Read more about losing weight in this article.
5. Control your diabetes
Diabetes can speed up the development of cardiovascular disease. This disease is either inherited or acquired as a result of poor diet and obesity.
If disease is inherited proper measures are required to control the disease, depending on the type of disease. Type 1 diabetes can be controlled with the use of insulin pumps which regulates blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes can be controlled with proper diet and exercise.
6. Reduce stress and avoid stressful situations
Stress can induce stroke. It can also speed up the development of heart disease, hypertension or cerebrovascular disease. To properly manage stress you should consult a professional.
7. Quit smoking for good
You should quit smoking. Smoking contributes to development of many diseases, including heart disease, cerebrovascular disease and might cause hypertension.
Luckily, negative effects of smoking can be (almost) totally reversed if smoking is discontinued.
If you are unable to quit smoking yourself you should consult a professional or join a support group to get counseling.