You could be at risk for a stroke. Your age and family history may have you at a higher risk than others, and that can be scary, especially because you can’t turn back the clock or revise your ancestry.
There are, however, several other stroke risk factors that you can influence – as long as you know about them. Like with so many other aspects of health, knowledge is power.
If you become aware of a particular risk factor that could sabotage your health and leave you open to higher stroke risk, you can take steps to reduce or even alleviate its impact. Here are some things you can control to lower your risk for stroke.
Lower Blood Pressure: High blood pressure is a huge stroke risk factor, which can double, or even quadruple, your risk for a stroke if it is not managed. High blood pressure is the biggest contributor to the risk of stroke in both men and women.
Monitoring your blood pressure, and treating it if it is elevated, is one of the biggest differences a person can make to their vascular health. Ideal blood pressure is 120/80, but in your case, it may be better to focus on keeping it below 140/90.
You can reduce blood pressure by increasing activity, limiting sodium, and eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains every day.
Lose Weight: Obesity, and the complications linked to it, can boost the risk of a stroke. In obese or overweight individuals, losing as little as 10 pounds can make a big difference in stroke risk.
You can lose weight by capping calories around 1,500 – 2,000 per day and getting more activity.
Exercise More: More exercise can help lower blood pressure and weight and make arteries and veins more relaxed. Try to exercise at a moderate intensity five days per week. A walk around the block counts.
If You Drink, Do It in Moderation: Having more than two drinks per day can sharply boost the risk of a stroke, so try to cap it there.
Treat Diabetes If You Have It: High blood sugar damages blood vessels over time, increasing the likelihood of clots forming. Managing blood sugar and treating diabetes through diet, medication, and exercise can help lower your stroke risk.