The symptoms of a stroke are undetectable until they strike with catastrophic force – often resulting in disability or death. Click here to learn more about stroke. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to prevent a stroke and its devastating consequences. The first step is determining if you are at risk. Learn how to assess your risk for stroke and what you can do to avoid the crippling aftereffects.
The factors below put you at risk for stroke.
- High Blood Pressure: You are at high risk for stroke if your blood pressure is anything over 140/90. If you don’t know your blood pressure, your doctor will assume that you are at high risk.
- High Cholesterol: Your LDL cholesterol (the bad type of cholesterol) should be under 100 and your “good” cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, should be over 50. High cholesterol can result in plaque that travels down your arteries, potentially blocking off blood flow to your brain.
- Diabetes: Your blood sugar should be under 100. If your number is larger, you have too much sugar percolating around that can damage the arteries. Additionally, excess sugar increases risk of plaque formation and narrows blood vessels in the brain.
- Smoking tightens blood vessels and increases blood pressure. It is a major cause of stroke, as it makes your blood more likely to clot.
- Sedentary Lifestyle: Not exercising is a major risk factor. Exercise helps to minimize other risk factors by reducing blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure.
- Family History along with your gender and race are important risk factors. African-Americans and Latinas are up to twice as likely to have a stroke as a white woman.
If 3 or more of these factors apply to you, you should talk to your doctor immediately about your risk for stroke.
You can prevent stroke by being cognizant of relevant lifestyle factors. Below are 5 steps to avoid stroke.
- Know Your 5: You can’t go to battle if you don’t know what you’re fighting against. Learn your numbers so you can focus on remedying the factors that put you at risk for stroke and other illnesses.
- Do Cardio Exercise: You don’t have to run a marathon – every little bit of cardiovascular exercise helps. Little things like taking the stairs or parking in the furthest away parking spot can add up to reduce your blood pressure.
- Lose the Belly Fat: Keep your waist size less than half of your height.
- Eat Right: Make sure that your diet includes leafy, green vegetables and colorful fruits. Avoid processed meats like ham, bacon and sausage that contain high amounts of fat and nitrates.
- Monitor Your Medications: Birth-control pills can increase your blood’s ability to clot. Hormone replacement therapy combined with other factors can also put you at risk. Speak to your doctor to make sure your medicines are safe for you.