We have seen that the primary two risk factors for strokes are age and family history. Unfortunately, we can neither turn back the clock to become younger nor can we change our genetics.
But that doesn’t mean we are totally helpless against the inevitability of the fate. There are many other risk factors as well, that is absolutely in our control. In this article, we will explore these risk factors and understand how we can control them.
Controlling the blood pressure
One of the top risk factors for stroke in people who do not have a positive familial history is the Hypertension or high blood pressure. Ideally, one should maintain a blood pressure that is lower than 120/80, but in some cases, the Doctor might also advise keeping a slightly more relaxed target of 140/90. Following these tips can help control the blood pressure:
- Reduce your daily salt intake to less than 1.5 grams. Change your diet to include 4 to 5 cups of fruits and vegetables in a day. Also, increase the number of whole grains and low-fat dairy in your diet.
- Give up high-cholesterol foods, such as fried food, cheese, and ice cream. Quit smoking, and avoid consumption of alcohol. We advise these measures even if you are not at a risk of stroke.
- Exercise regularly. Ideally, perform some cardio activity daily, but if a gym with the cardio facility is not available, try to get 45 minutes of the brisk walk at least 5 times a week.
- Take blood pressure medication, if needed. Consult your Doctor to know what is the best blood pressure medication for you.
Maintain healthy body weight
Another big risk factor for strokes is Obesity and the other complications that come along with it – such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Ideally, your Body Mass Index, or BMI, should be 25 or less. Follow these tips to control your body weight:
- Reduce your total daily calorie intake to less than 1,500. If your activity levels are high, you may keep it between 1,500 to 2,000, but no more.
- Again, exercise regularly. Consider taking up a sport as a hobby (golfing, playing tennis, running, or whatever tickles your fancy), and make this sport a part of your daily routine.
Cure your atrial fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation can increase the risk of stroke by as much as 5 times. This condition causes your heart to beat irregularly, forming clots in the heart, which in turn can travel to the brain, resulting in a stroke. If you have symptoms such as heart palpitations or persistent shortness of breath, you should consider visiting a Doctor for a proper diagnosis. Your Doctor may prescribe blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin).
Control your diabetes
High blood sugar can cause severe damage to the blood vessels in the body, which makes a formation of clots more likely.Uncontrolled diabetes can also cause a lot of other health complications, such as hypoglycemia, heart disease, nerve damage and amputation, and vision problems. You should regularly monitor your blood sugar, and take medication as directed by your Doctor. In addition, also modify your diet and activity level as prescribed by your Doctor to keep your blood sugar within the recommended range.
Take care of your mental health
A recent study has shown that Depression can make one as much as 29% more likely to suffer a stroke. The study reasons that the patients of Depression tend to smoke more than normal people, their weight is increased due to overeating, and they tend to exercise less. In addition, these patients are also more likely to have medical issues such as high blood pressure and diabetes. All these are risk factors for stroke. If you persistently feel anxious or hopeless, or if you are constantly irritable and exhausted, you may be suffering from Depression and should seek medical help.
That said, these tips can only lower the risk, not eliminate it entirely. In the unfortunate event of a stroke attack, it is important to get the patient to a hospital within 3 to 4 hours of suffering the stroke. To that end, the importance of performing the B.E.F.A.S.T. test (Balance loss; Eye-sight impairment; Face drooping; Arm weakness; Speech difficulty; Time to act) on a person who is showing the symptoms of stroke, cannot be emphasized enough. If a loved one has failed the B.E.F.A.S.T. test, contact us immediately at +91 7702432111 / +91 9652669351, or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org