How You Can Prevent Stroke
Certain risk factors increase your chance of having a stroke. This is why you should prioritise living a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Although some risk factors cannot be controlled, they can almost always be managed and treated.
Lifestyle risk factors that you can do something about
The following risk factors can be treated, managed or excluded from your lifestyle:
- High blood pressure
- Atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat)
- High cholesterol
- Obesity or being overweight
- Unhealthy diet
- Drinking alcohol excessively
- Lack of exercise
- Use of illicit drugs
Risk factors that are not linked to your lifestyle
The following risk factors are not affected by your lifestyle:
- Your age – age increases your chances of having a stroke increase, but it can also occur in young people, including children.
- Your sex – men are more likely to have a stroke than women
- Family history of stroke
- Previous stroke or TIA
Lifestyle changes to start making today
These lifestyle changes will decrease your chance of having a stroke:
1. Manage high blood pressure
Get your blood pressure measured regularly and your treatment adjusted until your blood pressure is under control. Losing weight, regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, and cutting down on salt will also help.
2. Lose excess weight
Being overweight increases the chances of having high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and stroke. Visit a dietician for advice on a weight-loss meal plan, and exercise for at least 150 minutes a week.
3. Stop smoking
Smoking is a major risk factor for stroke. Chemicals in cigarettes damage the lining of arteries and add to the build-up of fatty material within the walls of the arteries. If you are struggling with withdrawal symptoms, discuss the possibility of using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) with your doctor or pharmacist.
4. Eat a healthy diet
A healthy diet is important to help maintain a healthy weight and to lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Base your diet on high-fibre foods, vegetables and fruit, moderate quantities of lean meat and low‐fat dairy product. Limit the intake of unhealthy fats, salt and sweets.
5. Exercise regularly
Keeping physically active is essential to reduce your risk of a stroke. Aim for at least 30 to 60 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week.
6. Be aware of stress levels
Stress often leads to unhealthy lifestyle habits like overeating, eating unhealthy foods, smoking, drinking too much alcohol and not exercising. It is important to identify the factors that increase your stress levels and talk to your doctor about finding solutions to manage them.