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Stroke Prevention: Simple Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Your Risk

Several million people die of stroke each year. To avoid being one of them, follow these simple rules for stroke prevention.

In the US alone, someone has a stroke every 40 seconds. In the Russian Federation, the statistics are also impressive: over 450 thousand people become victims of a stroke every year.

What is a stroke?

A stroke is a serious acute problem with blood circulation in the brain. The cause may be a rupture of some, not necessarily large vessel – this type of stroke is called hemorrhagic – or a blood clot that blocks the flow of blood – an ischemic stroke, respectively. In both cases, the stroke can have severe consequences. In the first case, accumulated blood presses on nervous tissue and prevents it from functioning, while in the second case, brain cells stop receiving food and oxygen and can die.

Depending on which part of the brain was damaged, neurological functions for which that part was responsible can be affected. Some people may become speechless or partially or completely paralyzed, while others may have trouble breathing, or even die.

Unfortunately, the statistics show that 31% of stroke patients need special care, 20% cannot walk on their own, and only 8% return to normal life after long rehabilitation.

The worst part is that stroke is hard to predict. No wonder it was called a stroke: an acute brain disorder develops suddenly and quickly. Often, literally from scratch: just now a person was laughing, joking and generally looked fine, and now they need an ambulance.

Who is at risk?

Some people are more vulnerable to stroke than others, especially those who have:

  • Hypertension (the most common cause of strokes)
  • A heart condition (such as heart failure or arrhythmia)
  • Diabetes (which damages blood vessels, including the brain, increasing the risk of bleeding)
  • Overweight
  • Take certain medications, such as those that change estrogen levels, for example, birth control pills
  • Lead a sedentary lifestyle
  • Have high blood cholesterol
  • Smoke
  • Have sleep apnea
  • Are over 55 years old (the risk of having a stroke doubles after the age of 55)
  • Have a family history of strokes: where one of their close relatives became a victim of a stroke
  • Are men (women have a much lower risk of stroke)

If you have at least a few of these risk factors, you need to take care of yourself, preferably starting today.

What you can do for stroke prevention

Stroke prevention primarily involves lifestyle changes. Here is what experts from the authoritative research organization Mayo Clinic recommend doing first:

  1. Watch your weight. Excess weight increases several factors that increase the risk of stroke, including an increase in blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, and possible development of diabetes. Even losing 4-5 extra pounds can significantly improve your chances of avoiding a stroke.
  2. Eat more vegetables and fruits. Aim for at least 4-5 servings of fruits or vegetables (like apples, coleslaw, or grilled vegetables) per day. Plant foods can lower blood pressure and improve vascular elasticity, which is excellent prevention for stroke.
  3. Stop smoking And avoid smoking rooms altogether. Passive smoking, like active smoking, has a destructive effect on blood vessels.
  4. Exercise regularly. Physical activity reduces the risk of all types of stroke, especially aerobic workouts like walking, running, swimming, cycling, and low-impact fitness. These exercises help to reduce weight, improve the general condition of blood vessels and the heart, and reduce stress. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day.
  5. Drink less. While doctors don’t call for quitting drinking altogether, drinking is definitely dangerous because it increases blood pressure. But moderate alcohol consumption may even reduce the risk of blood clots and prevent ischemic stroke, according to some reports. One serving, according to doctors, is 17 ml of pure alcohol or:
  • 350 ml of beer
  • 147 ml of wine
  • 44 ml of something strong like vodka, cognac, whiskey, or similar alcoholic drinks.

Keep in mind that this still does not give you carte blanche for moderate drinking. Whether you can drink or not, it’s better to discuss it with a therapist.

  1. Eat fewer trans fats Trans fats reduce the lumen of blood vessels. So, the formation of a blood clot will become more likely. Therefore, avoid fast food, purchased pastries, chips, crackers, and margarine.
  2. Control your blood pressure Do not allow it to be more than 130/80. If you experience such situations, be sure to consult a therapist for advice.
  3. Try not to miss diabetes There are signs by which you can catch this disease at an early stage. Listen to yourself.

Unfortunately, there is no way to reduce the risk of stroke to zero. Therefore, in addition to stroke prevention measures, it is important to know what a stroke looks like and what to do if it happens to you or someone in your environment.



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