Every year, over 800,000 people experience a stroke for the first time or suffer a recurring stroke. Stroke is the leading cause of death in the United States as well as the top cause of disability in adults. Despite these staggering statistics, up to 80% of strokes can be prevented with healthy lifestyle changes. No matter your age, it’s never too late to make a positive change to improve your health and well-being!
What are the Risk Factors for Stroke?
When it comes to stroke, there are two categories of risk factors. Some are out of your control, such as your race, family history, age and gender. However, when it comes to controlled risk factors of stroke, there are several elements that you can influence by making a few changes in your lifestyle, eating habits and exercise routine.
Controlled Stroke Risks
- Physical Inactivity – Lack of regular exercise can lead to high blood pressure and cholesterol. Both conditions are controlled risk factors for stroke.
- Smoking – This bad habit decreases oxygen and damages your blood vessels, increasing the chance for stroke to occur. The good news is there’s never been more products to help you kick the habit.
- Diet – Eating too much salt raises your blood pressure, while high saturated fats and trans-fats increase cholesterol in your blood. Try to limit the effect of salt by staying hydrated and eating less processed food.
- High Blood Pressure – also known as hypertension, it is the leading cause of stroke and the most significant risk factor.
How to Prevent a Stroke
- Since high blood pressure is the leading risk factor or stroke, it’s important to keep an eye on your levels and keep them within an acceptable range. There are several ways to manage your blood pressure, including stress management, diet, exercise and taking medications prescribed by your doctor.
- Stop smoking. Smoking deprives your body’s tissues of oxygen, and the brain needs it to function properly. While you might enjoy the habit, quitting smoking will have benefits beyond preventing a stroke.
- To prevent stroke, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends lowering your alcohol since drinking can increase your blood pressure. As a guideline, the CDC advises no more than two drinks a day for men and one for women.
- Did you know that diabetes is also a well-established risk factor for stroke? If you are diabetic, be sure to check your blood sugar regularly. Your doctor can also recommend strategies and tips for keeping your blood sugar levels under control.
- Get moving! Add exercise to your daily routine. Even a short 10-15 walk around the block every day can help reduce your stroke risk. Regular exercise helps keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels within a healthy range.
Now that you know some easy ways to prevent a stroke, it’s time to put them into practice. A good tip to remember the stroke risk factors mentioned above is to create a daily checklist to follow. It will help you stay on track while giving you a sense of accomplishment.
Recovery After a Stroke
Stroke recovery is all about getting back to a normal life and regaining as much independence as possible. Oftentimes to accomplish this goal, seniors get support from rehabilitation communities. Stroke affects each person differently, depending on the areas of the brain impacted. For this reason, no two people will experience or recover from a stroke in the same way. Recovery can be a difficult process for stroke victims due to physical, social and emotional changes.
It is completely natural to experience anxiety, anger and depression after a stroke. Finding a compassionate, supportive rehabilitation community can offer the support you need while minimizing the effects of a stroke and lowering your recovery time. Going through stroke recovery can be challenging, but it’s not something you have to go through alone.