President of the World Medical Association (WMA) Prof Sir Michael Marmot...
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Ways to lower your risk of stroke
In the time it takes to read this article, someone in the United States will have a stroke.
Every 40 seconds—that’s about how often they occur, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). And every four minutes someone in the US dies of a stroke. And the thing is, 80 per cent of strokes can be prevented. Here’s how:
Control high blood pressure
Regularly monitor your blood pressure numbers on your own, and work with a doctor to plan goals and medication use. An active lifestyle and healthy diet go a long way to lower blood pressure, too.
In terms of stroke, smoking robs the blood of oxygen, forcing the heart to work harder and thus increasing the likelihood of blood clots. Let’s scream it from the rooftops: Stop smoking. Doctors, pharmacists, counsellors and Web sites like smokefree.gov can help you kick the habit.
People with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have a stroke than people without the disease, according to the American Diabetes Association. Thorough management of diabetes is crucial for stroke prevention, and that means keeping blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check, as well as exercising and eating healthfully.
Lower your risk of stroke (and other health issues) by logging about 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (like brisk walking) five days of the week. Sound like a lot?
Consider breaking those 30 minutes into 10-minute segments, when you may walk around the office complex at lunchtime or kick a soccer ball with the children. Choose activities you enjoy, whether it’s dancing or yoga, and you’re more likely to meet your goals.
Lose weight if you are obese
Too much fat on the body increases your risk of stroke, heart disease, diabetes and more. Work with your doctor to determine a healthy weight for you and a plan for getting there. Exercise will certainly help, and so will healthy eating.
Go crazy on the fruits and vegetables. A 2004 Harvard School of Public Health study showed that folks who averaged eight or more daily servings of fruits and vegetables were 30 per cent less likely to have had a heart attack or stroke than those who ate 1.5 or fewer daily servings.
Maintain healthy cholesterol levels
Another reason to exercise, maintain a healthy weight and eat nutritious foods—each of these steps will help keep your cholesterol in check and thus lower your risk of stroke.
Low-density lipoproteins, known as the “bad” cholesterol, can cause plaque to build up in arteries and potentially block blood flow to the brain. The AHA recommends adults over age 20 get their cholesterol tested at least once every five years.
(US News and World Report)