A stroke is a common medical problem that occurs when the blood flow to the brain gets interrupted. This causes brain cells to quickly die as they are deprived of oxygen and vital nutrients. There are a variety of different factors that can cause a stroke including genetics. If your family has a history of strokes, then you need to take action immediately because you are at an elevated risk of stroke as well. However, that doesn’t mean that a stroke is inevitable. These are the four best lifestyle changes you can make to help avoid a stroke.
Eat a Healthy Diet
High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of strokes. A great way to quickly get your blood pressure under control is by eating a healthy diet. Make sure your meals are filled with fresh fruits and vegetables. Additionally, make sure you’re limiting the things in your diet that are not good for you.
For example, most people have far too much sodium in their diets, so you’ll likely have to take care to reduce this. High sodium intake is closely tied to high blood pressure. This in turn can damage your blood vessels because of the stress they’re put under. Then those damaged blood vessels may clot and cause a stroke.
You’ll likely hear that you need to reduce fats in your diet, and that is true in some respects. However, it’s perhaps more important that you’re careful of which kinds of fats you put in your body. Your body does need fat for cell production and brain health, but some fats are better than others. When doctors and dieticians talk about taking fat out of your diet, they’re probably talking about trans fat and saturated fat.
Trans fat is cheap and easy to use, so it’s in a lot of processed and fried food, often listed on the ingredients label as “partially hydrogenated oil” or something similar. Saturated fat, the kind that is solid at room temperature and usually found in meat and animal products is also unhealthy. Both trans fat and saturated fat can raise your bad cholesterol levels, increasing your risk of having a stroke.
Healthier fats include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Rather than increasing your bad cholesterol, these increase your good cholesterol. While you still shouldn’t be eating too much of these—a gram of fat has more than double the calories of a gram of protein or carbs, and you still want to keep your calorie consumption to reasonable levels—they should make up the majority of the fats in your diet. You can find both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in seeds, nuts, and plant-based oils. Avocados and soybeans also contain these healthy fats.
Smoking is never a good idea, but it is even more dangerous when you have a family history of stroke. Smoking reduces the oxygen levels in your blood and damages blood vessels throughout your body, which makes a stroke more likely to occur.
It is also a good idea to completely avoid situations where you are exposed to secondhand smoke. Breathing in secondhand smoke can be just as dangerous as actually smoking the cigarette. If you have friends who smoke, ask them not to smoke around you and avoid the areas where they smoke.
Get Regular Exercise
Another easy way to lower blood pressure and cholesterol is by exercising on a regular basis. It is generally recommended to get around 20 to 30 minutes of exercise each day. If you are unable to devote time to exercising every day, then a longer session a couple times a week or on the weekend will also work.
There are two main types of exercise: aerobic and anaerobic. Aerobic exercise—also known as cardio exercise—is lighter exercise over a longer period of time, and anaerobic exercise is short bursts of high-intensity exercise. While both are good for you, aerobic exercise is considered better for preventing health conditions like strokes. This is because aerobic exercise increases oxygen and blood flow throughout the body as you work large muscle groups. It can also help lower your blood pressure.
If just the word exercise discourages you—as it does for many—keep in mind that aerobic exercise doesn’t have to be jumping on the treadmill for a half-hour everyday. Taking a daily walk through your neighborhood or dancing with your partner are both great ways to get some exercise in. Housework and gardening can also count as aerobic exercise. As you get more comfortable with those low-intensity options, you can move onto things like running, swimming, or cycling on a regular basis.
Regular Visit Stroke Doctor
There is no better way to prevent strokes than by making regular visits to a doctor specializing in the condition. A locum tenens stroke doctor in your area will closely monitor your vascular health to help you stay safe. They can prescribe medications and provide other solutions to quickly reduce your risk of a stroke. With your health constantly monitored by a professional, you should be able to prevent strokes as long as you follow their advice.
Of course, you should also have a regular general physician that you visit on a yearly basis. Let them know that you could be at risk for strokes so that they can take that into account when treating any other conditions you might have. There may be some medications they need to avoid in order to help you avoid the risk of a stroke
A stroke can change your entire life in an instant. It will affect you, your partner, your children, and your other loved ones all at once. Since nothing is more important in life than your health, you need to take your family history of stroke seriously. Making a few lifestyle changes is an easy sacrifice to live a longer and healthier life with the people you love. It can also help your children learn to make better life choices so that they too can avoid the risk of a stroke in their futures. End this unfortunate family heritage by making the proper changes in your daily life.