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What You Can Do to Prevent a Stroke

If you’ve had a close relative suffer a stroke, you may think it’s an unavoidable part of aging and your family history. While these factors do contribute to your risk and aren’t changeable, that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to also have a stroke! There are multiple things that are well within your control that can drastically reduce your chances.  Here are the top things you can do to prevent a stroke:

Manage Your Weight

While you don’t have to be overweight to have a stroke, having excess weight can increase your chances due to other factors that are associated with obesity like high blood pressure and diabetes.

Quick Tips for Eating Healthier and Dropping Pounds:

  • Take a minute to examine what you eat in a day and try to stay within a 1,500 to 2,000 calorie diet.  For a more personalized calorie count, find out how many calories you need to eat to maintain or lose weight here: calorie calculator.
  • Don’t just count your calories, make your calories count. Minimize the amount of processed/prepared foods you eat and replace them with fresh produce and protein.
  • Whenever possible, try to cook for yourself. Not only does cooking help you burn calories but it helps you be more mindful of what goes in your food.

Get Active

Getting more exercise not only helps keep your joints moving better and increases circulation, but it also helps with one of the other huge factors on this list: maintaining and losing weight. But the good news is that getting exercise doesn’t have to be difficult. You don’t need to pressure yourself into anything over the top like running a marathon or bench pressing your own body weight. You can get a lot of benefits from these simple changes:

Quick Tips for Getting Active

  • Get walking! Try a short 5-10 minute walk after each meal to help with digestion and circulation. After time, increase how long you walk to get even more benefits.
  • Make exercise fun and/or productive by taking up an activity like golf or gardening.
  • Add exercise into your daily routine with our What You Can Do While Watching TV

Control Your Blood Pressure

Keeping your blood pressure in a healthy range is just about the most important factor in preventing stroke. Not only does high blood pressure affect your heart, it also affects your other organs, especially kidneys and can even cause vision loss, so there are many reasons to control it.

Quick Tips for Lowering Blood Pressure

  • Cut down on your salt consumption, ideally, to 1,500 mg or less per day. To put that in perspective, a typical can of regular sodium soup contains between 1,400 to 1,800 mg. This is another reason to minimize processed foods in your diet.
  • Again, get active. Exercise helps to reduce so many other factors along with helping you feel better overall. Shoot for a minimum of 30 minutes of activity per day and up that once you’re comfortable.
  • If you smoke, quit. Smoking decreases circulation which affects blood flow to the heart and increases the potential for a stroke.
  • If you are already on blood pressure medication, make sure to take it consistently. If you don’t know your blood pressure, get it checked, and take measures to reduce it as needed.
  • Keep your ideal numbers in mind: 120/80 is best but up to 140/90 can be acceptable.

Manage other diseases

Both diabetes and atrial fibrillation (a type of irregular heartbeat) can up your chances of stroke when they are left unchecked.

Quick Tips for Managing Chronic Diseases

  • Make and keep regular appointments.
  • Keep a list of changes you may have noticed in your health or questions you want to ask your doctor. It’s easy once you’re in the office to forget everything you meant to talk about, so bringing a list along will help tremendously.
  • Stay current and consistent in your medications.
  • Listen to your body. While not every ache or pain requires a doctor visit, be mindful of changes in your body and pain that persists or recurs without reason.

Need help managing your stroke risks? One of the best ways to lead a healthier lifestyle for seniors is to live in a community that supports your health and fitness goals. The Cedars of Chapel Hill Life Plan Community offers activities to keep you moving and a variety of dining options to meet all your dietary needs. Learn more about the Cedars lifestyle and how they can make retirement years the best years.

Photo Attribute: Miranda Knox,