Strokes, which occur when there is an interruption to the blood flow, are the fourth leading cause of death in the USA, following heart disease, cancer and chronic lower respiratory diseases. Strokes affect both men and women, and are more likely to occur to people over the age of 55. I’ve elaborated more about stroke and the warning signs of stroke in my previous article Early Signs of Stroke and mentioned that some people recover completely from strokes, but more than 2/3 of survivors will have some type of long term disability. However, there’s no point in worrying about the statistics. There are ways in which you can greatly reduce your risk of having a stroke. So if you’re up for it, then you’ve come to the right place!
1. Exercise in moderation
Engaging in moderate exercise decreases your risk of heart attack by 30% to 50%. So come, get your sneakers on and try to work out for 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least 5 days a week. Regular exercise is a great way to maintain a healthy weight. It will improve your heart function and blood circulation, it will also lower your cholesterol level and maintain a healthy level of blood pressure.
2. Control alcohol use
In some studies, drinking lots of alcohol has been negatively linked to stroke. For example, more than 2 drinks per day may increase stroke risk by 50%.
3. Weight management
If you are overweight or obese, then you don’t have to slim down to the size of a Victoria Secret model in order to reduce your risk of stroke. Be realistic with yourself. By losing just 5-10% of your body weight, you improve your cholesterol, lower blood pressure and blood sugar. High blood pressure and high cholesterol levels are major risk factors for stroke. Also people with diabetes are up to 4 times more likely to have a stroke.
4. Take your heart medicine
Here’s a shocking fact for you – One study found that 130,000 Americans die every year because they don’t take heart medicines the way their doctor told them. Are you naughty about taking your heart medication? If you are, you’re clearly not alone. So don’t feel ashamed. Instead, just work out what keeps you from taking your medicine. Is it side effects, cost, or forgetfulness? It is worth asking your doctor for help to find the right medicine for you.
5. Eat a proper nutrition
You are what you eat. So it makes sense to eat healthy. Need more encouragement? Ok, well maybe this fact will help; by eating a healthy diet full of wholesome foods, consisting of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and fish, you could reduce your risk of developing a stroke by a whopping 25%. You can still have your cake and eat it, just not every day. You can find more information about healthy eating and nutrition in my e-book Effortless Healthy Eating which is part of the Natural Health Revolution Program. This program will help you to achieve your health, nutrition or weight loss goals.
Potassium rich foods – Furthermore, according to a new study by American Heart Association’s journal Stroke, consuming more potassium lessens your chances of having a stoke. Especially so in post-menopausal women. Foods high in potassium include: white beans, dark leafy greens, baked potatoes (with skin), sweet potato, dried apricots, baked acorn squash, plain non-fat yogurt, salmon, avocado, mushrooms and banana.
Eat a little dark chocolate – Here’s some fantastic news: several studies show that people who eat dark chocolate more than once a week lower their risk of heart disease by almost 40%, of diabetes by about 30%, and of stroke by about 30%. The higher the cocoa content the better, so look out for good quality chocolate with a cocoa content of 75% or higher. Read more about dark chocolate in my previous article How to Use Dark Chocolate as a Medicine.
6. Don’t smoke
This may sound like an obvious one, but it’s worthwhile reminding people. Even if you don’t smoke, but spend a lot of time with someone who does, then you are also at risk. It is shocking, but each year, about 46,000 people die from heart disease related to their exposure to second-hand smoke. If you are a smoker, you can find here 5 natural ways to quit smoking (scientifically proven).
7. Avoiding illegal drugs
Some drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamines, are risk factors for a stroke. Cocaine, for example, reduces blood flow and can cause narrowing of arteries which can lead to stroke.
8. Treat obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
Sleep apnea is often undiagnosed, and studies indicate that as many as 1 in 15 adults has moderate to severe OSA. According to Mayo Clinic website, moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) has been shown to increase the risk of stroke by as much as three times in men. So if you have OSA, make sure to follow the treatment you’ve been given.
9. Visit your dentist
This is a less obvious tip, but worthwhile following: getting your teeth cleaned every 6 months may lower your risk of heart attack by 24% and of stroke by 13%. A dentist can also recognize signs of heart disease — such as swollen gums or loose teeth — before you or your doctor pick up on symptoms, which means you can get treatment earlier. And indeed this is one of the surprising tips that I’ve mentioned in my previous article about 10 habits that harm your heart that you probably didn’t know about.
10. Watch for unusual symptoms
It’s important to listen to your body and pay attention to any unusual symptoms, such as shortness of breath, changes in heart rhythm and exhaustion. Your doctor is there to help you, so don’t hesitate making an appointment. I’m talking to you, guys! Quit with the macho-attitude.
Finally, the best steps you can take to reduce your stroke risk a are knowing your risk factors, following your doctor’s advice and adopting a healthy lifestyle.
Read here my article about the warning signs of stroke that can save life:
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