Recent studies have shown an increase in stroke in adults aged 35 to 50. The recent death of Beverly Hills, 90210 and Riverdale actor Luke Perry, after a massive stroke at age 52, has many asking: What causes stroke and how can it be prevented?
A stroke is an attack that takes place in the brain, rather than the heart. Stroke occurs when an artery that leads to the brain — or is within the brain — is blocked or damaged, depriving the brain of oxygen and nutrients needed for survival.
While there are certain risk factors that may make a person more likely to have a stroke — such as smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol — there are steps you can take to reduce your own risk.
10 steps to prevent stroke
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends healthy lifestyle choices and controlling medical conditions, such as heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes, as the top ways to prevent stroke.
1. Choose a healthy dietA diet high in fiber — with plenty of fruits and vegetables — and low in sodium, saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol helps reduce the risk of stroke.
2. Maintain a healthy weightLosing as little as 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can lower your risk of stroke.
3. Exercise regularlyAim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, five days a week.
4. Quit smokingCigarette smoking significantly increases your risk of stroke.
5. Limit alcohol consumptionMen should consume no more than two drinks per day, and women no more than one drink per day.
6. Check your cholesterol levelsIf you have high cholesterol, talk with your doctor about lifestyle changes and the possibility of taking medication to help lower your levels.
7. Control your blood pressureTalk to your doctor if you have high blood pressure, which can be treated with lifestyle changes, medication or a low-sodium diet.
8. Manage your diabetesIf you have diabetes, check your blood sugar levels regularly. Talk with your doctor about appropriate treatment and lifestyle changes, such as getting more physical activity or modifying your diet.
9. Treat your heart conditionIf you have a heart condition, such as AFib, your doctor may recommend medical treatment or surgery to help prevent stroke.
10. Take your medicationIf you take medicine to treat heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes, follow your doctor’s instructions carefully and don’t stop taking your medicine without first talking to your doctor.
Know the signs of stroke and act FAST
Knowing the signs of stroke is also important. Timely treatment is crucial to reduce the risk of death or disability from stroke. The early warning signs of stroke can be remembered as “FAST”:
- Face drooping
- Arm weakness
- Speech difficulty
- Time to call 911
As always, talk with your doctor about any concerns you may have about your lifestyle or medical conditions. Together, you can take steps to reduce your risk of stroke.
Learn more about stroke care at Sharp.