These Everyday Habits Can Help Decrease Your Risk of Stroke

If you’re like most adults, the thought of having a stroke terrifies you — especially because they can happen seemingly out of nowhere. And although there are certain risk factors and signs, technically, they can happen to anyone.

Luckily, you’re not completely powerless, and taking your health seriously can lower your odds of stroke substantially. And you don’t even have to take drastic measures. You can reduce your risk of having a stroke by adapting these easy everyday lifestyle changes.

Cut the junk from your diet …

Junk food

Junk food | Mukhina1/iStock/Getty Images

This probably seems like common sense … and it is. Eating a healthy diet is the best thing you can do to decrease your stroke risk, and that means cutting way back on junk foods, eliminating trans fats and hydrogenated oils, and avoiding sugary drinks.

Next: Your food matters most.

… and replace it with produce.

Salad

Salad | OksanaKiian/iStock/Getty Images

Studies have shown that a diet high in fruits and vegetables can dramatically lower your risk of suffering from a stroke. If you already eat a balanced diet, making an effort to have a piece of fruit for a snack or adding some extra veggies to your lunch salad may be all it takes. If you never eat produce, it’s time to learn to enjoy them.

Next: Get moving.

Move your body every day

Jogging

Jogging | Justin Sullivan/iStock/Getty Images

Exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, so it should come as no surprise that moving your body reduces your stroke risk. Study after study shows that even a little but of daily movement increases your odds of staying healthy, so incorporate a daily walk into your routine.

Next: Rethink your Saturday night plans. 

Cut back on your drinking …

Cocktail

Cocktail | IvanZivkovic/iStock/Getty Images

If you’re a heavy drinker, you should cut back on your consumption for a lot of reasons. Too much binge drinking raises your blood pressure, which strains your arteries and heart and may lead to a stroke.

Next: Here’s some good news if you enjoy a nightcap.

… but don’t stop entirely.

Vine in glass

Wine in a glass. | Plateresca/iStock/Getty Images

If you’re a light drinker, we have some good news: Apparently, light or moderate drinking may reduce your risk of ischemic strokes, or blocked blood flow to the brain. According to the American Stroke Association, around 87% strokes are ischemic strokes, so having one drink a day (and sticking to just one) might not be a bad thing.

Next: Pay attention to your heart.

Treat your atrial fibrillation

Pain in heart

Pain in heart | Zinkevych/iStock/Getty Images

Atrial fibrillation is a form of irregular heartbeat that can cause clots to form in your heart. If the clots travel to the brain, you’ll have a stroke. See your doctor if you have heart palpitations and shortness of breath — the condition is treatable.

Next: Keep your blood pressure in check.

Keep a close eye on your blood pressure

Doctor checking blood pressure

Doctor checking blood pressure. | Zinkevych/iStock/Getty Images

Did you know high blood pressure is a leading risk factor for stroke? Get yours checked regularly, and try to manage it naturally through diet, exercise, and keeping stress levels low.

Next: If you still have this nasty habit, kick it.

Say no to cigarettes

Ash tray

Ash tray | VladyslavDanilin/iStock/Getty Images

Every day you don’t smoke is a day you’re lowering your stroke risk. Cigarettes are deadly for a lot of reasons, but smoking makes you twice as likely to die if you do have a stroke.

Next: Ad “Om” to your vocabulary.

Meditate

Meditation

Meditation | LightFieldStudios/iStock/Getty Images

A 2012 study revealed that daily meditation reduces the risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Since meditation is associated with all kinds of health benefits, it makes sense to set aside a few minutes a day for the practice. Here’s how to get started.

Next: Step on the scale.

Manage your weight

Scale

Scale | Vadimguzhva/iStock/Getty Images

Controlling your weight is a key component to lowering your stroke risk. If you’re already eating a healthy diet and exercising, this shouldn’t be a problem, but if you’re extremely overweight, shedding some pounds will help lower your odds.

Next: Could you be diabetic?

Keep your blood sugar in check

Doctor and patient

Doctor and patient | Gpointstudio/iStock/Getty Images

Unfortunately, if you’re diabetic, your risk of stroke increases. But managing your diabetes with lifestyle habits and medication is a great way to lower that risk.

Next: Skip the chips. 

Watch your salt intake

Chips

Chips | Lisovskaya/iStock/Getty Images

A diet high in sodium isn’t healthy, especially if you’re at risk for a stroke. Limit your sodium intake to 2,300 mg, or 1,500 mg if you’re over the age of 51 or in a high risk category.

Next: Pay attention to your feelings. 

 Know the difference between sad and depressed

Man thinking

Man thinking | KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock/Getty Images

If you have depression, you’re 29% more likely to suffer from a stroke. Depressed people are more likely to have other unhealthy habits, like smoking and eating junk food. If you think you have depression symptoms, see your doctor right away.

Next: Make sure you’re snoozing.

Sleep 7 hours a night

Woman in bed

Woman in bed | Liderina/iStock/Getty Images

According to a Prevention article, Harvard studies indicate that seven hours of sleep is ideal for reducing your stroke risk. Sleep deprivation is dangerous, but sleeping more than 10 hours a night could increase your odds of suffering a stroke by a whopping 63%. Find a happy medium.

Next: Here’s how to tell if you’re having a stroke.

Identify your symptoms F.A.S.T.

Old upset man

Old upset man | Photodjo/iStock/Getty Images

Your odds of recovering from a stroke improve dramatically if you can identify the symptoms. Remembering the word FAST will help:

  • Face: Does one side of your face droop when you smile?
  • Arms: Can you raise both arms, or does one drift downward?
  • Speech: Is your speech slurred?
  • Time: Call 911 right away if you or someone you love is experiencing any of these symptoms. Response time matters.

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