Healthy Habits Could Prevent Stroke
Some risk factors for stroke cannot be changed, such as: gender (male), age (over 55), family history/race, and prior history of stroke, previous TIA or heart attack. However, there are many risk factors for stroke which can be lessened or eliminated by behavior modification and health management.
High blood pressure or hypertension
High blood pressure is the number one cause of stroke and 1 in 5 adults with hypertension are unaware that they have it. The best thing you can do to take care of your heart is to know your blood pressure and determine if it is healthy.
Know your numbers. A systolic blood pressure (top number) of 140 or higher, OR a diastolic blood pressure (bottom number) of 90 or higher, is considered high blood pressure.
You should work with your provider to achieve and maintain healthy numbers. Healthy habits such as decreasing salt intake and increasing exercise can help to combat hypertension and lower your stroke risk. Learn more about hypertension here »
Diabetes (high blood sugar) is a risk factor for stroke. If you have diabetes, it is critical that you control your blood sugar. Memorial offers basic education for patients to understand and take care of their diabetes on a daily basis. Structured to encourage, support and promote self-management and long term maintenance, this class is delivered in sessions over several months. A physician referral is required. Learn more here ».
Tobacco use in any form can double your risk of stroke. Many of tobacco’s effects are reversible and if you use tobacco, you should stop. By avoiding or quitting, you can reduce your risk for many adverse health conditions. The Washington State Department of Health Tobacco Quit Line helps you quit using tobacco by addressing the mental and physical aspects of tobacco addiction. Specially trained quit coaches work one-on-one with you to help you identify barriers to quitting, overcome urges and create a quit plan. Learn more here »
Physical inactivity and obesity
A sedentary lifestyle or obesity can increase your risk of stroke. Small amounts of physical activity can improve your overall health, decrease your weight and may reduce your stroke risk. Start slowly and discuss your physical activity goals with your provider. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five days of the week, or 20 minutes of vigorous physical activity, three days a week. Talk to your provider regarding a plan that will work best for your particular health needs and lifestyle.
Virginia Mason Memorial and Kohl's Cares want you to be healthy for life and has teamed up to bring you Healthy For Life, a program dedicated to bring you exercise and cooking classes at NO CHARGE! Learn more here »
A diet containing five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day may reduce the risk of stroke. Avoid foods high in fats, salt, and calories. A healthy diet can also help reduce your blood pressure and cholesterol which will help to decrease your risk of stroke. Memorial’s Cardiovascular Rehabilitation & Wellness offers Heart Health education classes to the public each month. Popular nutrition classes include: Appetite Control, DASH Diet, Dietary Portion Control, Mediterranean Diet, and Recipe Modification. See the current schedule of topics here »
High blood cholesterol
People with high blood cholesterol have an increased risk for stroke because cholesterol can build up in the blood vessels and slow the movement of blood. High blood cholesterol can be reduced by proper nutrition and routine physical activity. Medication may also be required to control cholesterol levels.