Reducing your risk of stroke
The best way to help prevent a stroke is to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and avoid smoking and drinking too much alcohol.
A stroke is a serious, life-threatening medical condition that occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. Every year, around 110,000 people in England have a stroke, it is the third largest cause of death and a major cause of adult disability. Up to 80 per cent of strokes are preventable by making changes to your lifestyle. Having high blood pressure, high cholesterol and clogged arteries, gives you a higher risk of a stroke. You can reduce your stroke risk by:
You can reduce your stroke risk by:
Staying a healthy weight and eating less salt
An unhealthy diet can increase your chances of having a stroke because it may lead to an increase in your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Eat a low-fat, high-fibre and balanced diet, including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and whole grains. You should limit the amount of salt you eat to no more than 6g (approximately 1 teaspoon) a day because too much salt will increase your blood pressure. Limit foods that are high in salt and processed foods. Being overweight increases your risk of having a stroke by 22%, and 64% risk if you’re obese.
Doing more exercise
Regular exercise can help to lower your blood pressure and help you maintain a healthy weight. Regular moderate exercise can reduce your risk of stroke by 27%. Any amount of exercise will help, but if you can manage it, you should aim to do at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five or more times a week. You don’t have to do all 30 minutes at once, it can be broken up into smaller blocks of time throughout the day.
You are twice as likely to die from stroke if you smoke. Smoking leads to high blood pressure, damages your arteries and makes your blood more likely to clot. If you stop smoking, you can reduce your risk of having a stroke and will also improve your general health and reduce your risk of developing other serious conditions. There is lots of help available to support you. Call the local Stop Smoking service on freephone 0800 376 56 55.
Cutting down on alcohol
Drinking too much alcohol raises your blood pressure and causes weight gain. If your blood pressure is too high, it puts a strain on your arteries and heart, which can lead to stroke. Binge drinking is particularly dangerous as it can cause your blood pressure to rise very quickly. You are three times more likely to suffer a stroke if you drink heavily. Drink less than 14 units per week spread over 3 days or more to reduce your stroke risk. Download MyDrinkAware - an app to help you track what you’re drinking.
Medical treatment for risk factors
If you have been diagnosed with a condition known to increase your risk of stroke – such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation (irregular heart beat), diabetes or transient ischaemic attack (‘mini-stroke’) – ensuring the condition is well controlled medically is also important in helping prevent strokes. Lifestyle changes can help control these conditions, but you may also need to take regular medication. A free NHS Health Check for adults aged 40-74 can spot early signs of some conditions. If you’ve not had yours yet, call your GP.