Strategies for Stroke Prevention

May 13, 2011

May is Stroke Awareness month, here are some top tips from experts around the web on easy lifestyle changes for stroke prevention

May is Stroke Awareness month and SupermarketGuru wants to share the top tips from experts around the web on easy lifestyle changes for stroke prevention. According to the American Stroke Association, approximately 700,000 Americans will suffer a new or recurrent stroke this year; that’s about every 40 seconds, and more than 77 percent of these are first events. Strokes are a leading cause of severe, long-term disability; addressing the risk factors can help prevent stroke.

Dr. Orly Avitzur, a board-certified neurologist and medical adviser for Consumer Reports Health says, “many people don’t realize that by making healthier lifestyle changes, they can cut their risk of stroke dramatically… only a very small fraction of people… have a handle on the major cardiovascular risk factors for stroke. Fortunately, many of those risk factors can be reduced or eliminated by controlling blood pressure, improving cholesterol levels, reining in diabetes, and quitting smoking.” 

Stroke is caused by sudden loss of blood flow to the brain, or bleeding in or around the brain, either of which can cause brain cells to die. It is the number three cause of death and the leading cause of disability in the US. Dr Avitzur adds that, “hypertension is the most important and treatable risk factor for stroke, yet more than half of Americans with high blood pressure don’t have it under control.”

What are some things you can do to actively prevent stroke? First pay attention to your blood pressure; high blood pressure causes damage to arteries increasing the risk of clogging or bursting. Next, get your blood sugar in check, and if you have diabetes this definitely applies to you! High blood sugar damages vessels over time. Improve your cholesterol levels; especially focus on lowering LDL which is a fatty substance in the blood, which can build up as plaque on artery walls, causing arteries to narrow, as well as increasing risk of rupturing a plaque.

Fortunately all of the risk factors mentioned above can be greatly reduced if you maintain a varied and balanced diet full of colorful fruits and vegetables. According to Consumer Reports, diet has a strong influence on an individual’s risk of stroke. In a study that assessed people's consumption of produce, each extra daily serving reduced stroke risk by 6 percent. Other studies have linked high-potassium diets with lower stroke risk, while sodium-heavy diets are tied to greater risk. Choose whole grains over refined grains- as whole grains are full of fiber and essential vitamins and minerals. Keep sugary beverages, highly refined foods and sweets to a minimum for optimal vessel health.

Imbibe consciously: moderate drinking, that’s 2 drinks a day for men and 1 for women, appears to reduce stroke risk. On the other hand excessive drinking is associated with a 64 percent increased risk of stroke, as well as raising blood pressure, promoting clot formation and other cardiovascular risks.

Move more, or Let’s Move, as our First Lady would say: being physically active can help strengthen the most important muscle in your body, your heart. Excess fat, especially around your abdomen, increases blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, and the risk of type 2 diabetes.