A Stroke is No Joke: 7 Steps to Minimise Your Risk

Aug 10, 2022

A stroke can hit us at any age, but medical evidence proves conclusively that around 75% of people who have a stroke are ages 65 and older.

A great deal has been published about the dangers of stroke, much of it quite technical, but what follows is an analysis of the condition and an easy-to-follow recipe for increasing your odds of avoiding one.

What Is A Stroke?

According to the prestigious Mayo Clinic: “An ischemic stroke (the most common) occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted or reduced, preventing brain tissue from getting oxygen and nutrients. Brain cells begin to die in minutes. A stroke is a medical emergency, and prompt treatment is crucial. Early action can reduce brain damage and other complications.”

Stroke prevention, while not foolproof, is quite straightforward. We’ve developed a simple distillation, based on authoritative sources, covering what to do. The steps are simple and there are seven of them.

1. Manage Your Blood Pressure

Lowering your systolic (top) number by 10 or your diastolic (bottom) number by 5 can cut your risk of stroke death in half. According to the American Heart Association a “normal” blood pressure is <120/< 80 mm HG.

To help you keep track of your blood pressure, your local pharmacy will sell you a blood pressure monitor for about $50. Consider using it daily.

2. Control Your Cholesterol

By controlling your cholesterol, you’re giving your arteries their best chance to remain clear of blockages. This article shared by Statistics Canada offers a simple explanation of what cholesterol is and how it works.

3. Reduce Your Blood Sugar

High levels of blood sugar over time can lead to diabetes, which in turn, increases your risk for stroke. The Mayo Clinic explains the condition and what to do to treat it.

4. Get Active

It can be as simple as a daily walk. Increased walking time has been associated with a reduced risk of stroke. Aim for 30 minutes a day, five times a week. It’s an easy way to improve your heart and brain health and help prevent stroke.

5. Eat Better

A healthy diet is one of your best weapons for fighting stroke. Incorporating more fresh fruits and veggies into your diet and decreasing your salt intake to less than 1500 mg a day is a great start to healthier eating. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention offer a detailed dietary solution.

6. Lose Weight

A large percentage of Canadian adults are overweight. Excess weight increases your risk for stroke. Losing weight can help lower your blood pressure and reduce the burden on your heart, lungs, blood vessels and skeleton.

7. Stop Smoking

That’s right, butt out! Did you know that the risk of having a stroke is two to four times higher among smokers than non-smokers? If you can’t stop, cut down. It’s that simple.

Make These Your Daily Habits

These habits, devised by the American Heart Association, are dubbed ‘Life’s Simple 7’ – and if you follow them, studies indicate that your risk of a stroke reduces by almost half. We like those odds, so let’s get to it!

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