Ways to Decrease Stroke Risk

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Strokes are among the greatest cause of death and disability in the world. Fortunately, there are things you can do to prevent stroke and prolong your healthy life.

Signs and symptoms of stroke include paralysis of one or both sides of the body, lack of speech, vision abnormalities, and inability to understand the spoken word. There can be other, minor symptoms associated with the disease as well.

One of the most common ways to decrease stroke risk is to reduce blood pressure. This usually means taking antihypertensive medications to keep your blood press at 140/90 or less. This keeps the pressure off the blood vessels so they don’t burst and hemorrhage. You’ll need to have your blood pressure monitored on a regular basis. You can have your blood pressure checked at the drug store, the doctor’s office or at home with a home monitor.

You should decrease your level of depression and stress. Your emotional state is important when it comes to getting stroke symptoms so you should try to remain calm and socialize with others as much as possible. You can involve yourself in church and community activities in order to reduce depression and loneliness. Other ways to reduce stress include taking yoga classes, taking medication classes, playing music that relaxes you and mild walking outdoors in the sunshine. Therapy may be necessary if the depression and stress are too difficult to manage on your own.

Reduce your chances of developing blood clots. This can mean taking a baby aspirin a day. It can also mean that you take medications like Plavix or Coumadin to really keep the blood thin at all times. Your doctor can help you decide which medication you should be taking.

You should lower your level of LDL or “bad” cholesterol. High levels of this lipoprotein can increase your risk of getting a stroke. There are anti-lipid medications you can take that lower the LDL level and increase your HDL or “good” cholesterol. When the bad cholesterol is high, you stand an increased chance of getting blood clots that cause stroke.

Your diet is important in the prevention of stroke. You should eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables and whole grain foods. Some small amounts of meat is acceptable if it is low in fat. These foods are low in cholesterol and fat so they do not contribute to an elevated LDL level. This results in a decreased risk for stroke.

Exercise regularly, at least three times a week for a half hour at a time. This gets your circulation going, helps lower blood pressure and makes you feel overall better about yourself. The activity should be of a moderate intensity. Talk to your doctor about what kinds of exercises and to what degree you should be exercising.

You should stop smoking. Smoking just happens to be a great risk factor for stroke. Talk to your doctor about ways you can lower your cravings for cigarettes.