How to prevent a stroke
Just like with heart attacks, strokes are a problem with blood vessels. You may not be able to "prevent" a stroke, but just like with heart attacks, there are things you can do so you are less likely to have a stroke.
Talk with your doctor about your personal stroke risk. Some conditions (like being African-American or having abnormal heart rhythms) increase your risk of stroke. Together, you can figure out ways to lower your stroke risk.
Follow these steps to reduce your risk of stroke.
Know your numbers
Knowing these important numbers about yourself is the first step.
- Blood pressure: High blood pressure is a major stroke risk factor if left untreated. Have your blood pressure checked yearly by a doctor or at health fairs, a local pharmacy or supermarket or with an automatic blood pressure machine.
- Cholesterol: Cholesterol is a fatty substance in the blood that is made by the body. It also comes in food. High cholesterol levels can clog arteries and cause a stroke. See a doctor if your total cholesterol level is more than 200.
- Blood sugar: High blood sugar is a sign of diabetes. Many people with diabetes have health problems that are also stroke risk factors. A doctor and dietitian can help manage diabetes.
- Weight: Extra weight strains the circulatory system and can contribute to a stroke.
Exercise and eat a healthy diet
- Exercise regularly — five times a week.
- Eat a diet low in processed foods, salt, sugar and trans fats.
- Eat five servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
Need help? Our Live It! program has helped lots of people lose weight and begin a healthy new way of living.
Smoking doubles your risk of stroke. It damages blood vessel walls, speeds up artery clogging, raises blood pressure and makes your heart work harder.
One of the best resources to quit is the state-level tobacco quit line. We are fortunate to have excellent tobacco quit lines available to our patients in both Oregon and Washington which can be reached using the same toll-free number (1-800-QUIT-NOW). You can learn more by going online to their websites:
For smokers ready to quit, download this information brochure.
And, for those smokers not quite ready, download this information brochure.
Drink in moderation
Alcohol use has been linked to stroke in many studies. Most doctors recommend not drinking or drinking only in moderation –– no more than two drinks each day.