A stroke is a sudden stop of blood supply to the brain. Sound frightening? That’s because it is. To be sure, in mere minutes a stroke could change your life, causing memory and cognitive loss and physical debilitation.
4 Things you can do now
The good news is that you can do a lot to lower your chances of having a stroke or preventing another if you’ve already had one. Although you can’t control every factor that increase your odds (age, family, history, gender) there are several key items you can keep in check to greatly reduce your chances of having a stroke.
Know your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
High blood pressure is a leading cause of stroke, so knowing your numbers is the first and perhaps most important step to help prevent a stroke. An optimal blood pressure is anything at or below 120/80 mm Hg. Talk and work with your doctor if your blood pressure is not in this range
High blood cholesterol also puts you at an increased risk for stroke. An ideal total cholesterol is less than 200 mg/dL. Complete your annual wellness screening to have your cholesterol levels checked is critical to your health.
Do everything you can to quit smoking if you smoke.
Research shows that cigarette smoking is another top risk factor for stroke. The nicotine, carbon monoxide and other chemicals in cigarettes damage your cardiovascular system, increasing the odds of stroke. Your doctor can prescribe treatments to help you quit.
Choose mono-saturated fats over the saturated kind.
Diets high in saturated and trans fats, which can be found in red meats, lard, cream, and process foods can raise blood cholesterol levels. Moderate amounts of mono-saturated fats on the other hand can actually help keep your cholesterol in check and are found in vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and some fish.
Something as simple as a daily brisk walk can decrease your risk. Try to get a total of at least 40 minutes of activity on most or all days.