Your best bet in preventing stroke is to identify your risk factors for stroke, and to work on the ones that can be controlled or treated. Your health care professional will be able to help you identify the risk factors that you can work on, and develop a plan that will work for you.
There are many changes that you can make to your lifestyle that will not only reduce your risk of stroke, but also improve your overall health:
- Quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke. Between 5 and 15 years after quitting smoking (depending on how much and how long you smoked), your risk of stroke will be the same as that of someone who never smoked.
- Drink alcohol in moderation. Limit yourself to no more than 2 drinks per day, to a maximum of 15 per week for men or 10 per week for women.
- Be active. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate-to-intense physical activity each week. It can be as simple as going for a walk at lunch. If you are not very active now, check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.
- Try to reach and stay at a healthy weight. Talk to your doctor about a nutrition and exercise program that can help you do this.
- Control stress. Be aware of what causes stress for you and find ways to cope. To reduce the amount of stress that you have, you can look for ways to simplify your life or delegate some responsibilities to others. To help deal with the physical effects of stress, some people find exercise, yoga, meditation, and deep breathing helpful. It may take a few tries before you find the method that works best for you.
- Know what you're taking. Some natural health products and over-the-counter products can increase blood pressure and the risk of stroke. Check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any new medications.
There are a number of health conditions that may increase your risk of stroke. To control these risk factors:
- Have your blood pressure checked regularly. If you have high blood pressure, work with your health care professionals to keep it under control.
- Find out whether you have high cholesterol. If so, work with your health professionals to reduce it to a healthy level.
- If you have diabetes, work with your health care professionals to keep your blood sugar in a healthy range.
If you have already had a stroke or heart attack, your doctor may provide a program of medications, diet changes, and exercise to help prevent a stroke.
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