A stroke happens when the delivery of oxygenated blood is disrupted in the brain. When the brain cells are deprived of oxygen, they begin to deteriorate, causing loss of control over certain functions such as speech or movement.
The effects of a stroke can vary significantly, depending on where it occurred and how much of the brain is damaged. There are two types of strokes, one is caused by a burst blood vessel in the brain, while the other type is caused by a blockage in a blood vessel, which is the result of plaque buildup.
Plaques are fatty deposits within the blood vessels. Over time these fatty deposits harden and narrow the blood vessels, limiting blood flow and increasing the risk of blood clots. However, this is preventable in most people by making certain changes to your lifestyle.
In addition to lifestyle changes, it is extremely important if you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes that these conditions are well managed and under control. These risk factors have the largest impact on stroke risk. If you take medication for high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes, taking your medicine as prescribed is vital to manage your condition and reduce stroke risk.
Eat right and exercise often
High fat and high cholesterol foods are what contribute to the fatty deposits that build up within the arteries. Replace foods high in fat for low-fat and lean versions, and replace high-sugar foods with whole grains, fruits and vegetables to help protect your blood vessels from damage. The benefits of exercise are unlimited in terms of risk management. Regular physical activity can help reduce your weight and blood pressure, both of which are significant risk factors for stroke.
Stub it out
Quitting smoking is an incredibly important step you can take towards a healthy cardiovascular system, and reducing your risk of stroke. Smoking contributes to stroke by weakening and narrowing arteries through plaque buildup. Additionally, smoking makes the blood sticky and more likely to clot, which could lead to blood vessel blockage and a subsequent stroke.
Cut the salt
People who consume a diet high in salt are over two times more likely to have a stroke than those consuming a low-salt diet. Salt and salty diets are closely linked to high blood pressure, which is a major stroke risk factor. To avoid high blood pressure and decrease stroke risk, adults should not consume more than 6g of salt per day.
Don’t stress out
Being more laid back and finding ways to minimize your stress levels actually provides health benefits. Research has shown that people who are quick-tempered, impatient or aggressive may be more at risk of stroke. Stress has long been a recognized risk factor for heart attack, but research suggests it may also have a direct impact on stroke risk.