October 29th is World Stroke Day. This year, we’re bringing attention to the urgent need for us all to take action on stroke prevention. 1 in 4 of us is at risk of stroke in our lifetime, but most strokes can be prevented by taking a few simple steps. Here are the top tips that can help to reduce our risk of stroke.
Identify and treat Atrial Fibrillation: People with Atrial Fibrillation (AF) are five times more likely to have a stroke than the general population. If you are over 50, talk to your doctor about AF screening. If you have AF talk about treatments that will reduce your risks.
Reduce your alcohol intake: Over 1 million strokes each year are linked to excessive alcohol consumption. If you drink, keep to a limit of 1-2 units of alcohol a day.
Reduce your cholesterol: More than 1 in 4 strokes are linked to high levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol. Eating low saturated fats, avoiding processed food and exercise will help reduce your risk. If you can’t maintain a healthy cholesterol level with lifestyle changes, your doctor may advise medication to help.
Control high blood pressure: Half of all strokes are linked to hypertension. Knowing your blood pressure and controlling it with lifestyle change or medication will reduce your risk of stroke.
Manage diabetes: If you are diabetic you are at higher risk of stroke. Diabetes and stroke also share a number of risk factors including diet and exercise. If you have diabetes, talk to your doctor about how to reduce your stroke risk.
Exercise 5 times per week: Over a third of all strokes happen to people who do not get enough exercise – 20 to 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times per week will reduce your stroke risk.
Eat a healthy balanced diet: Almost a quarter of all stroke are linked to poor diet. Eating a diet high in fresh fruit and vegetables and reducing consumption of processed food will reduce your risk of stroke.
Stop smoking and avoid smoky environments: Almost 1 in 10 strokes are linked to smoking. Stopping smoking will reduce your risk of stroke and the risks of people who live around you. Getting help to quit increases your chances of success.
Manage stress and depression: Almost 1 in 6 strokes are linked to mental well-being. Managing stress, depression, anger and anxiety are all important to reducing stroke risk.
Maintain a healthy weight: Almost 1 in 5 strokes are linked to being overweight or obese. Maintaining a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) or Hip to Waist Ratio will help you reduce your risk or stroke.
To find out more about stroke risk factors and prevention, visit www.WorldStrokeCampaign.org or www.NWOstroke.ca.