5 Ways to Prevent a Stroke

Article Date: May 12, 2014

Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of adult disability. Alegent Creighton Health offers six emergency departments in the metro—including five that are accredited Stroke Centers.

Up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented. Here are some ways you can reduce your risk:

  1. Eat your veggies
    Mom told you to eat them—and she was right! Load up your plate with vegetables and they can lower your risk of stroke. One study found that people who ate vegetables six or seven days a week had an almost 60 percent lower chance of stroke than those who ate them only two days a week. Not to mention that veggies protect against cancer, are loaded with vitamins and minerals and help you control your weight.
  2. Control blood pressure and cholesterol
    Managing high blood pressure is the most important thing you can do to lessen your risk for stroke. High blood pressure damages arteries, causing narrowed or clogged blood vessels in the brain to cut off blood flow to brain cells. Or it can cause blood vessels to rupture in or near the brain. Controlling cholesterol levels is important too—high cholesterol can block normal flow to the brain and cause a stroke.
  3. Quit smoking and control alcohol use
    The Stroke Association says you are twice as likely to have a stroke if you smoke. Two packs a day boost risk of stroke to nine times that of nonsmokers. Alcohol can be dangerous too. For example, binge drinking can raise your blood pressure, which greatly increases your risk of stroke.
  4. Know the risks unique to women
    These risks include taking birth control pills, being pregnant and using Hormone Replacement Therapy. Also, according to Stroke.org, post-menopausal women with a waist size larger than 35.2 inches and a triglyceride level higher than 128 milligrams per liter may increase risk of stroke fivefold.
  5. Take aspirin and a blood thinner, if your doctor recommends them
    For people who have had a stroke, aspirin can prevent a second stroke or transient Ischemic attack (TIA), which is often a warning sign of an impending stroke. For those who have not had a stroke, aspirin may reduce their chances of having one if they have certain risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure or cholesterol, and diabetes. They should check with their doctor first.

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