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How to Prevent a Stroke from Happening

How to Prevent a Stroke from Happening

A stroke happens when the arteries that carry oxygen to the brain burst or develop blockages because of blood clots. In one study, researchers found out that this condition is the Philippines’s second leading cause of death. The good news is, we can do things to prevent a stroke from happening.

How Stroke Affects the Body

The effects of stroke differ from person to person. Experts categorize the effects into 3 – either it’s mild, moderate, or severe. This categorization depends on several factors, such as the:

  • Type of stroke; is it hemorrhagic or ischemic?
  • Side of the brain where the stroke occurred; is it in the left or right hemisphere?
  • Body functions involved in the affected area
  • Length of time the affected area was deprived of oxygen
  • Time it took to bring the patient to the hospital
  • Lobe of the brain damaged, as well as the size of the damage

Generally, if the patient sustained no permanent damage to some permanent damage, they could be under the mild or moderate stroke. On the other hand, if there were significant permanent damage, the patient may have a severe stroke.

The Best Stroke Prevention Tips

One way to prevent a stroke from happening is to make better dietary and lifestyle choices. Consider the following tips.

Get Moving

Engaging in physical activities not only promotes overall health, but it can also help avoid stroke. Doctors emphasize that when you exercise regularly, you will be able to better manage your cholesterol levels and your blood pressure. These two are big risk factors for stroke.

The CDC recommends adults have 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate to intense aerobic workouts each week. The exercise could be something as simple as brisk walking or bicycling.

how to prevent a stroke from happening

Pay Attention to Your Meal Plate

Besides exercise, one of the best stroke prevention tips is to take care of your diet. Just like engaging in physical activities, a well-balanced diet helps you manage your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

The following are good tips to serve as your guide:

  • Consider foods low in saturated and trans fat.
  • Consider a high-fiber diet.
  • Add a variety of fruits and vegetables in your meals.
  • Instead of refined or processed rice and bread, try whole grains.
  • Don’t consume too much of one kind of food.
  • Limit your sodium (salt) intake to just 6 grams a day.

Stop Smoking

To prevent a stroke from happening, doctors emphasize the need to stop smoking. This is because cigarette smoking narrows the arteries, thickens the blood, and makes it more likely to clot.

Quitting smoking not only reduces your risk for stroke, but it also helps you avoid diseases that damage the heart and lungs.

Drink in Moderation

For many of us, drinking alcohol is often a part of celebrating happy moments and milestones in our lives. However, in order to avoid stroke, it’s important to keep in mind that we need to manage our alcohol consumption.

Too much alcohol raises the blood pressure and triggers the occurrence of an irregular heartbeat. Furthermore, since it’s packed with calories, it can cause unhealthy weight gain and mess up your metabolism.

High blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, and unhealthy weight gain can increase the risk of stroke.

However, if you choose to drink, remember these limits:

  • Have only 1 glass of alcohol per day.
  • Try to have red wine as your first choice of alcohol.
  • Remember your portions: a standard-sized glass is 5-ounce for wine, 1.5 ounces for hard liquor, and 12 ounces for beer.

Manage Other Health Conditions

Learning the ways on how to prevent a stroke from happening requires you to treat other health conditions. Some of these conditions are:

  • Irregular heartbeat. Also called atrial fibrillation or Afib. An irregular heartbeat can cause clots in the heart. These blood clots can travel to the brain and cause stroke. If you have afib, go to the doctor to have it treated.
  • Diabetes. The risk of blood clot formation increases with diabetes because uncontrolled sugar levels can damage the blood vessels. If you are diabetic, monitor and manage your blood glucose, take your medications, exercise regularly, and maintain a well-balanced diet.
  • Cardiovascular Diseases. If you have other heart and blood vessel conditions like heart valve defects, coronary artery diseases, and atherosclerosis, be sure to treat them as well. Consult your doctor and follow their advice as these illnesses, especially atherosclerosis, often increase the risk of having a stroke.
  • Cholesterol Imbalance. There are two types of cholesterol in the body, the good (HDL) and the bad (LDL). High levels of LDL can cause cholesterol buildup in the arteries and lead to atherosclerosis, a risk factor for stroke. Talk to your doctor about the proper ways to manage your cholesterol levels. Depending on the severity of the imbalance, you may need to make dietary modifications or take appropriate medications.
  • High Blood Pressure. Since hypertension significantly increases the risk for stroke, it helps to ensure that your blood pressure is within the normal range. Strategies to manage hypertension involve diet and exercise. Additionally, if your doctor orders medications for you, take them as prescribed.
  • Overweight and Obesity. Finally, to prevent a stroke from happening, weight management can greatly help. Being overweight and obesity are associated with many diseases that predispose patients to stroke.

Key Takeaways

To prevent a stroke from happening, you don’t need to wait until you develop illnesses that are associated with it. The truth is, you have better chances of avoiding stroke if you don’t have underlying health conditions like hypertension, diabetes, or atherosclerosis.

However, being affected by these kinds of diseases can motivate you to further to follow the tips to prevent stroke. To sum it up, focusing on our dietary and lifestyle choices can help greatly. And of course, consulting the doctor in the event of difficulties in managing certain health conditions.

Learn more about Stroke here.

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Sources

Types of Stroke
https://www.heartandstroke.ca/stroke/what-is-stroke/types-of-stroke
Accessed August 19, 2020

Preventing Stroke: Healthy Living
https://www.cdc.gov/stroke/healthy_living.htm
Accessed August 19, 2020

Brain Basics: Preventing Stroke
https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Preventing-Stroke
Accessed August 19, 2020

7 things you can do to prevent a stroke
https://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/8-things-you-can-do-to-prevent-a-stroke
Accessed August 19, 2020

Prevention -Stroke
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stroke/prevention/#:~:text=The%20best%20way%20to%20help,high%20blood%20pressure
Accessed August 19, 2020

Six ways to prevent stroke
https://ukhealthcare.uky.edu/comprehensive-stroke-center/education-prevention/preventing-stroke/six-ways-prevent-stroke
Accessed August 19, 2020

The real stroke burden in the Philippines
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24844610/
Accessed August 19, 2020

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Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated Jun 17
Medically reviewed by Mike-Kenneth Go Doratan, M.D.
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