5 Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Stroke at Any Age

5 Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Stroke at Any Age

According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease was responsible for over 900,000 deaths in the United States in 2021 and of these deaths, 17.5% of them were attributed to a stroke. And according to the CDC, someone in the US has a stroke every 40 seconds (and someone dies from one every three minutes and 14 seconds.)

In this post, we will look at the key risk factors for having a stroke and show you some ways to reduce your risk.

Remember that this writing is not a substitute for medical advice and, if you are concerned about your risk of stroke, you should consult your doctor for personalized recommendations.  

What is a Stroke?

A stroke is a very serious medical condition in which blood supply to part of the brain is cut off or reduced. Ischaemic strokes (which account for 85% of cases) are caused by a blood clot, and haemorrhagic strokes are caused by a weakened blood vessel bursting. 

Symptoms of a stroke include:

  • The face dropping or drooping on one side
  • Weakness or numbness in an arm, a leg, or the face
  • Slurred speech or an inability to speak at all
  • Confusion
  • Vision problems such as blurred or blackened vision or seeing double 
  • Loss of balance or coordination 

A stroke is a medical emergency and it is vital that a person having a stroke gets medical attention as quickly as possible. If you think someone may be having a stroke, call 911 (or the appropriate emergency line in your location) immediately. A severe stroke can kill immediately, but many strokes are survivable if treated quickly enough.

Who is Most at Risk of a Stroke?

People aged over 55 are more at risk of a stroke. Men are more likely to have a stroke overall, though women are more likely to die from one, and Black people are at greater risk than white people. 

A family history of stroke, or having already had at least one stroke in the past, also increases your risk. 

There are also numerous lifestyle risk factors associated with stroke. In the next section, we will look at some of the ways you can mitigate these factors that are within your control. 

Five Stroke Prevention Tips for All Ages

It is impossible to completely eliminate your risk of having a stroke. However, there are plenty of steps you can take to significantly lower the likelihood. Here are our top five stroke prevention tips that will benefit you no matter your age. 

Eat a Healthy Diet and Maintain a Healthy Weight 

A healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates will increase your overall health and reduce your risk of myriad health issues including stroke. 

Maintaining a healthy weight is also important, as obesity is a leading stroke risk factor. If you are overweight, losing even a fairly small amount of weight can significantly cut your risk. 

Stop Smoking and Cut Back on Alcohol

If you smoke, stop. If you do not smoke, do not start. Smokers are twice as likely to experience a stroke as non-smokers, and smoking also contributes to numerous other health problems including lung cancer. 

If you drink alcohol, aim to have no more than two drinks per day if you are a man and one drink if you are a woman. Have at least a few alcohol-free days every week. 

Keep Fit

Having a good overall level of fitness helps to keep you healthy and reduces your risk of stroke as well as many other preventable diseases. Aim to get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five days per week. 

Running, brisk walking, swimming, dancing, team sports, and cycling are all great options. Most importantly, find an activity you enjoy and do it regularly. 

Understand and Treat Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is a type of irregular heartbeat and can cause clots to form in the heart. It increases your risk of stroke almost fivefold if you suffer from this condition, according to Harvard Health.

The symptoms of atrial fibrillation include shortness of breath, dizziness, and heart palpitations. If you experience any of these symptoms, see your doctor. They will be able to diagnose atrial fibrillation and, if appropriate, prescribe a course of treatment. 

Keep an Eye on Your Blood Pressure 

High blood pressure is one of the biggest risk factors for a stroke, and maintaining a blood pressure under 120/80 significantly reduces your risk. Monitor your blood pressure regularly and treat it if it is too high. 

Lowering your salt intake, avoiding high cholesterol foods, quitting smoking, and eating a healthy diet are all good ways to lower your blood pressure. Your doctor may also prescribe you blood pressure medication, if appropriate.