John Singleton: How Can You Prevent a Stroke?

John Singleton passed away after suffering a stroke at the age of 51. The 2 Fast 2 Furious and Boyz n the Hood director experienced leg pain after returning from a trip to Costa Rica, so he checked himself into Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. He later had a stroke in his hospital room.

After hearing about Singleton’s death, one question you might have is how you can reduce your chances of having a stroke. What are some of the ways you can prevent this from happening to you? The Cheat Sheet spoke with health experts to learn more about stroke prevention. Here are their tips. 

Keep blood pressure under control

John Singleton| Jim Spellman/WireImage
John Singleton| Jim Spellman/WireImage

One risk factor for stroke is high blood pressure. Dr. James Bernheimer, a neurologist at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland, says your risk for having a stroke can be reduced by 50% if you take steps to manage your blood pressure:

Low sodium diets, exercise, and weight loss can sometimes lower blood pressure, but often medication is needed. Good blood pressure control can cut your stroke risk in half; it is by far the most important modifiable risk factor. It contributes to damage of blood vessel walls, which promotes plaque formation and it is also a major risk factor for the bleeding into the brain type of stroke, as small blood vessels can rupture as a result of high blood pressure.

Watch your diet

John Singleton|Christopher Polk/Getty Images
John Singleton|Christopher Polk/Getty Images

Eating a balanced diet is important. Your food choices can greatly impact your chance of having a stroke. Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, a brain health, diet and nutrition expert, and author of 365 Ways to Boost Your Brain Power recommends cleaning up the way you eat:

Practice healthy eating habits, including low sugar consumption, and no smoking. Keep your blood pressure normalized, exercise, and supplement with magnesium, which will keep your blood sugar and blood pressure managed well. Studies have found that magnesium’s effect on helping reduce stroke risk is based on its ability to help maintain healthy blood pressure and blood sugar health. Magnesium deficiency may be associated with increased inflammation, which increases circulating levels of inflammatory proteins called cytokines which trigger cell damage in blood vessel cells. Low magnesium level stores in the body are associated with increased risk of ischemic stroke, in part, due to the effects on hypertension and diabetes.

Pay attention to your dental health

John Singleton|Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images
John Singleton|Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

One area of your health you might not pay much attention to is your dental health. Dr. Shahrooz Yazdani, founder of Yazdani Family Dentistry, advises taking good care of your teeth and gums:

A little- known fact is that gum disease is linked with cardiovascular issues in those with weakened immune systems. The buildup of plaque along the gum line causes inflammation and infection, increasing the likelihood of bacteria entering the bloodstream. This inflammation can spread to other parts of the body, like the arteries, which can make these people more susceptible to a stroke or heart attack. To best avoid this, brush and floss correctly that plaque buildup cannot occur in the first place.

Take care of yourself while you still have time

John Singleton| Gregg DeGuire/WireImage
John Singleton| Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

The earlier you start, the better. If you’re young, you might reason you have plenty of time to take care of yourself. You want to eat whatever you want and have fun now. However, Dr. Ethan Weiss, a cardiologist and associate professor at the University of California, San Francisco, recommends taking care of yourself now instead of waiting until you’re experiencing health problems:

The biggest issue in prevention, whether it is a stroke or heart attack, is that it can be hard to motivate to address the risk factors when you feel great and the disease might not happen for decades. However, the way we treat ourselves when we are 20 to 50 will greatly impact our health when we are 60 to 90.

Read more: What Causes a Stroke?  

Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!