Making Healthy Choices to Avoid a Stroke
Preventing a Stroke Through Good Health DecisionsOnce you know your stroke risk factors, the next step in stroke prevention involves minimizing or eliminating the stroke risk factors that you have. So what can you do to help prevent a stroke? Good stroke prevention strategies include:
- Controlling blood pressure and cholesterol
- Preventing or managing diabetes
- Controlling atrial fibrillation or other heart conditions
- Not smoking
- Exercising regularly
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Eating a well-balanced, heart-healthy diet.
Controlling Blood Pressure
High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) is by far the most potent risk factor for stroke. People with high blood pressure have a risk for stroke that is four to six times higher than the risk for those people who do not have high blood pressure. About 50 million American adults have high blood pressure.
A blood pressure reading consists of two numbers -- for example, 120/80. The top number is known as the systolic blood pressure, and the bottom number is the diastolic blood pressure. High blood pressure is defined as an average blood pressure higher than 140/90 with multiple blood pressure readings. "Prehypertension" is any level higher than 120/80 mmHg.
People with high blood pressure often have no high blood pressure symptoms, so have your blood pressure checked every one to two years. If you have high blood pressure, your healthcare provider may suggest you make some lifestyle changes, such as eating less salt (see DASH Diet) and exercising more. Your healthcare provider may also prescribe blood pressure medicine to help lower your blood pressure.
(Click Lowering Blood Pressure for more information.)