Every year nearly 800,000 Americans suffer a stroke. Currently, there are approximately 6.8 million stroke survivors in America. The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association recently updated their recommendations on ways to reduce the risk of having a stroke in people that have not previously had a stroke. (Learn warning signs of a stroke)
What are your risk factors? In order to reduce your risk of having a stroke you need to know what risk factors you have. The new recommendations urge people to learn their risks. Some risk factors you cannot control such as your age, gender, ethnicity, or having family members that have had a stroke or heart attack. Other risk factors include disorders such as atrial fibrillation and certain blood disorders. These types of conditions require medical treatment often to thin the blood in order to lower your risk of stroke. There are several risk factors though that you can treat or control, many just through diet and exercise alone.
Steps to treat or modify your risk factors:
1. Get Active Healthy adults should engage in moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity for 40 minutes total per day on 3 to 4 days each week.
2. Control Cholesterol Incorporate more physical activity and a diet lower in saturated and trans-saturated fats to lower your cholesterol. If necessary take a statin-cholesterol lowering medication.
3. Eat Better The Mediterranean diet is recommended for everyone. This diet is high in nuts, fish, fruits, and vegetables and is lower in sodium.
4. Manage Blood Pressure Normal blood pressure is considered less than 120/80. There are many things that can affect blood pressure. If you know you have high blood pressure the new recommendations encourage you to check your blood pressure at home.
5. Lose Weight Did you know that a modest weight loss of 10 pounds can lower blood pressure by ~5 mm Hg?
6. Reduce Blood Sugar Excess sugar consumption can not only lead to weight gain, but long-term can lead to serious complications. Protect your heart, eyes, nerves, and kidneys by cutting down on the amount of refined sugar you consume (such as that found in soda, pastries, candy, white bread, and pasta).
7. Stop Smoking!
Discuss any medication changes with your doctor In patients with multiple risk factors that are at high risk of having a stroke or heart attack a daily Aspirin (75 -100 mg) may be beneficial. Aspirin is not recommended for all people to reduce their risk of stroke or heart attack. Aspirin increases the risk of bleeding, and in many people with few risk factors and at low risk of a stroke this risk of bleeding is too great to support daily preventative Aspirin use. Talk to your doctor or Tria Pharmacist and take steps today to know your risks!
For more information on identifying and treating your modifiable risk factors go to the American Heart Association’s Power to End Stroke website for their Life Check tool at http://powertoendstroke.org/mylifecheck/main.html.