The Power of Prevention: Empowering Yourself Against Stroke


What you can do to prevent stroke As you get older, your chances of having a stroke increase. The same is true if your mother, father, or other close family member has had a stroke. 

Although you can’t rewind the past or change your family history, there are many other risk factors for stroke that you can know about and control. Knowledge is power. If you know that certain risk factors harm your health and increase your risk of stroke, you can take steps to reduce the impact of those risks. 

How to prevent stroke: 

Here are seven ways you can reduce your risk and prevent a stroke before it happens. 

Low blood pressure: 

High blood pressure is a major factor that, if uncontrolled, can double or quadruple the risk of stroke. High blood pressure is the number one cause of stroke risk in both men and women. Monitoring your blood pressure and treating it if it’s high can make a big difference in your blood vessel health. 


The ideal goal is to keep your blood pressure below 120/80. But there may be good reasons why you and your doctor don’t want your readings to be this low. For some people, a less aggressive target (such as 140/90 or lower) may be more appropriate. 

How to take it: 

Reduce salt in your diet to 1,500 milligrams (about half a teaspoon) per day. 

Avoid high cholesterol foods such as hamburgers, cheese, and ice cream. 

Eat 4 to 5 cups of fruits and vegetables daily, one serving of fish two to three times a week, and several servings of whole grains and low-fat dairy products each day. 

Exercise more – Exercise at least 30 minutes a day, and more if possible. 4 If you smoke, please quit.

Take blood pressure medication as needed.

Lose weight: 

Obesity and related complications (such as high blood pressure and diabetes) increase the chance of having a stroke. If you’re overweight, losing just 10 pounds can have a big impact on your stroke risk. 

Your goal: 

The ideal body mass index (BMI) is 25 or less, but this may not be realistic for you. Work with your doctor to develop a personalized weight loss strategy. 

How to eat: 

Aim to consume no more than 1,500 to 2,000 calories per day (depending on your activity level and current BMI).

Increase your physical activity by making activities like walking, golf and tennis a part of your daily routine. 

Exercise more: 

Exercise helps you lose weight and lower blood pressure, but it also works as an independent stroke reducer in its own right. 

The goal: 

Get moderate intensity exercise at least five days a week. 

How to achieve it: 

Take a walk in your neighborhood every morning after breakfast. 

Start a fitness club with your friends. 

Exercise can help you carry on a conversation even when you are short of breath. 

Please use the stairs instead of the lift whenever possible. 

If you don’t have time to exercise for 30 minutes straight, try breaking it up into 10-15 minute sessions several times a day. 

If you consume alcohol, limit its quantity:

Alcohol is fine as long as it is consumed in moderation, such as an average of one drink per day. If you start drinking more than two drinks a day, your risk increases rapidly. Your goal is not to drink alcohol or consume it in moderation. 

How to get it: 

Limit alcohol to one drink a day. Consider red wine as your first choice. Some studies suggest that red wine may help prevent heart disease and stroke.

Pay attention to portion size. Standard sized drinks include a 5-ounce glass of wine, a 12-ounce glass of beer, or a 1.5-ounce glass of hard liquor.

Treatment of Atrial Fibrillation: Atrial fibrillation is a type of arrhythmia caused by blood clots in the heart. These blood clots can travel to the brain and cause a stroke. Atrial fibrillation is associated with approximately five times the risk of stroke and should be taken seriously. 

Your goal: 

Treat atrial fibrillation if you have it. 


Seek medical help if you have symptoms such as heart palpitations or difficulty breathing. 

To reduce the risk of stroke caused by atrial fibrillation, anticoagulants (blood thinners), such as direct-acting anticoagulants, may be needed. Your doctor will guide you in this treatment. 

Diabetes treatment: 

High blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels over time and make blood clots more likely to form. Your goal is to control your blood sugar levels. 

How to get it: 

Monitor your blood sugar levels as directed by your doctor.

Keep blood sugar levels within recommended ranges through diet, exercise, and medications. 

Quit smoking: 

Smoking speeds up the clotting process in several ways. The blood becomes thicker and the amount of plaque formed in the arteries increases. Along with a healthy diet and regular exercise, quitting smoking is one of the most powerful lifestyle changes you can make and can significantly help reduce your risk of stroke. 

Your goal: 

Quit smoking. 

How to get it: 

Talk to your doctor to choose the best method for you. 

Use quit smoking tools such as nicotine pills or patches, counseling and medication. 

Don’t give up. It takes most smokers several attempts to quit. Think of each attempt as a step toward overcoming the habit.

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