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Published on March 19, 2013

Take Action to Reduce Your Risk of Stroke

March 19, 2013

A stroke is sometimes called a “brain attack.” Stroke happens when blood flow to the brain is blocked. Stroke is a leading cause of death in adults. It’s also the most common cause of long-term disability in adults.

Take these steps today to reduce your risk of stroke.

Get your blood pressure checked.

High blood pressure is the most important risk factor for stroke. Get your blood pressure checked at least every 2 years starting at age 18. Ask your doctor if you need to get it checked more often.
If your blood pressure is high, talk with your doctor or nurse about ways to lower it.

Quit smoking.

Not smoking is one of the best things you can do to prevent stroke. After you quit smoking, your risk of stroke and heart disease start to go down.

Take steps to prevent type 2 diabetes.

Having diabetes can increase your risk of stroke. You can help prevent type 2 diabetes by eating healthy and staying active. If you have diabetes, talk with your doctor about how to keep your blood sugar (glucose) in the normal range.

Get active.

Aim for 2 hours and 30 minutes every week of moderate aerobic activity, like walking fast or biking.

Talk with a doctor about taking aspirin every day.

Aspirin can improve the flow of blood to the heart and brain. This lowers your risk of heart attack or stroke.

Aspirin is not recommended for everyone. Your doctor can help you decide if aspirin is the right choice for you.

Get your cholesterol checked.

Having high cholesterol can increase your risk of stroke. Talk with your doctor about having your cholesterol checked. If your cholesterol is high, you can take steps to lower it.

Eat healthy.

Follow a healthy diet to help keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control. Cut down on foods high in sodium (salt) and saturated fat.

Get enough sleep.

Sleep is important for staying healthy. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes people’s breathing to pause during sleep. Sleep apnea increases the risk of stroke in middle-aged men and women who have gone through menopause.

Talk to a doctor or nurse if you feel like you have trouble getting enough sleep.

Know your family’s health history.

Your family’s health history can give your doctor or nurse important information about your risk for stroke. Share this information with your doctor or nurse.

Drink alcohol only in moderation.

Drinking too much can put you at risk for high blood pressure. High blood pressure is the major cause of stroke. If you drink alcohol, limit your drinking to no more than:

  • 1 drink a day for women
  • 2 drinks a day for men

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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