A stroke occurs when the brain fails to get the required amount of blood, and more than 795,000 Americans suffer from this phenomenon every year. An individual loses nearly 2 million brain cells every minute a stroke goes untreated, resulting in fatal consequences. Since brain cells cannot be regenerated, a stroke results in partial or complete paralysis, loss of the ability to speak, and even death. Recurrent strokes are even more common than first-time strokes and more fatal as well.
Therefore, it is essential to look into ways to reduce stroke risk if you already had a stroke or suffer from aggravating factors such as cardiovascular diseases, old age, or a family history of strokes. Managing risk factors can be life-saving, as 80% of strokes can be prevented via controlled medical conditions and lifestyle changes. Let us look at ten strategies that can be implemented to avoid having a stroke or reverse stroke risk.
Ways to reduce stroke risk
The most suitable way of treating stroke is to avoid having it altogether, and hypertension (or high blood pressure) is one of the most significant factors that doubles or even quadruples an individual’s stroke risk.
Maintaining a blood pressure of less than 120/80 if possible and prioritizing your vascular health can considerably reverse stroke risk. You can do this by bringing about some lifestyle changes such as quitting foods with saturated fats, reducing the use of salt (ideally no more than 1,500 milligrams a day), exercising regularly, taking medicines to treat hypertension, and quitting smoking.
Getting rid of obesity
Obesity is known as a mother disease as it leads to several other complications such as hypertension, diabetes, and stroke. Free yourself from this life-threatening condition that is relatively normalized in our societies, as it can have a paramount impact on your stroke risk.
You can maintain an ideal body mass index (BMI) by consulting with a health specialist (a BMI less or equal to 25 is not the ideal number for everybody), and reducing your calorie intake per day to about 1,500 to 2,000 (in accordance with your BMI).
Treating cardiovascular disorders, especially atrial fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation results in the formation of blood clots in the heart, which can then travel to the brain and cause a stroke. Individuals with atrial fibrillation have a five-fold risk of stroke, and thus getting it diagnosed and treated in time is of paramount importance. Anticoagulant drugs, or blood thinners, reduce stroke risk but should be taken after appropriate doctor consultation.
Since diabetic patients have high blood glucose levels, their blood vessels are more likely to get damaged over time, leading to the formation of blood clots. These blood clots can travel to the brain just like atrial fibrillation and cause a stroke. Keeping your blood sugar in check can reverse stroke risks, and this can be done by monitoring daily sugar intake and leading a healthy and active lifestyle.
Bringing about a lifestyle change
Leading a healthy lifestyle and indulging in physical activities regularly is one of the most effective ways of preventing stroke and various other fatal diseases, such as high blood pressure and obesity. Being active does not only translate to joining a gym: you can indulge in any physical activity of your liking, such as walking with friends, playing a sport of your choice, walking with your dog, or even opting for the stairs instead of the elevator.
Reducing alcohol consumption
Studies show that the consumption of more than two drinks a day shoots up your stroke risk, especially if you are diabetic, obese, or have a history of stroke. You can reverse your risk factors for stroke by reducing alcohol consumption to one or zero drinks a day and watching your portion sizes. One standard drink amounts to a 5-ounce glass of wine, 1.5 ounces of hard liquor, and 12 ounces of beer.
Shifting to a vitamin and nutrient-rich diet
Research indicates that supplements can significantly reduce stroke risks and promote recovery. Your diet must be rich in nutritive elements such as:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B-6 and Vitamin B-12
- Vitamin E
- Folic Acid
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Not only does smoking damage the lungs and cause various respiratory disorders, but it can also contribute to vascular disorders. Smoking can lead to a thickening of the blood, thereby increasing the amount of plaque buildup in the arteries. Plaque can accelerate blood clot formation, and thus smokers are at a higher risk of suffering from a stroke than non-smokers. You should consult with a doctor to look into possible ways to quit smoking, such as using nicotine patches or pills.
Reducing the amount of stress in life
You can diminish your stroke risk by practicing various relaxing and stress-reducing techniques. The American Heart Association (AHA) states that high-stress levels are directly linked to an elevated risk of stroke and thus should be prevented.
Getting regular massages
Massages are known to elevate blood flow in specific areas in the body, and you can reverse stroke risk by getting extra counterpulsation (ECP) treatments or massages. Hong Kong’s S.H. Ho Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke Center found that one-hour ECP treatments for 35 days increase blood flow to the brain by 9 percent.