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Nov.30.2018
 Stroke Prevention

Stroke Prevention

Some medical conditions and behaviors are associated with a higher chance of having a stroke. You can help prevent a stroke by making nutrition, lifestyle, and other changes, including managing any medical conditions you may have.

What nutrition changes can be made?

  • Eat healthy foods. You can do this by:
    • Choosing foods high in fiber, such as fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains.
    • Eating at least 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Try to fill half of your plate at each meal with fruits and vegetables.
    • Choosing lean protein foods, such as lean cuts of meat, poultry without skin, fish, tofu, beans, and nuts.
    • Eating low-fat dairy products.
    • Avoiding foods that are high in salt (sodium). This can help lower blood pressure.
    • Avoiding foods that have saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol. This can help prevent high cholesterol.
    • Avoiding processed and premade foods.
  • Follow your health care provider's specific guidelines for losing weight, controlling high blood pressure (hypertension), lowering high cholesterol, and managing diabetes. These may include:
    • Reducing your daily calorie intake.
    • Limiting your daily sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams (mg).
    • Using only healthy fats for cooking, such as olive oil, canola oil, or sunflower oil.
    • Counting your daily carbohydrate intake.

What lifestyle changes can be made?

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Talk to your health care provider about your ideal weight.
  • Get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least 5 days a week. Moderate activity includes brisk walking, biking, and swimming.
  • Do not use any products that contain nicotine or tobacco, such as cigarettes and e-cigarettes. If you need help quitting, ask your health care provider. It may also be helpful to avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Limit alcohol intake to no more than 1 drink a day for nonpregnant women and 2 drinks a day for men. One drink equals 12 oz of beer, 5 oz of wine, or 1½ oz of hard liquor.
  • Stop any illegal drug use.
  • Avoid taking birth control pills. Talk to your health care provider about the risks of taking birth control pills if:
    • You are over 35 years old.
    • You smoke.
    • You get migraines.
    • You have ever had a blood clot.

What other changes can be made?

  • Manage your cholesterol levels.
    • Eating a healthy diet is important for preventing high cholesterol. If cholesterol cannot be managed through diet alone, you may also need to take medicines.
    • Take any prescribed medicines to control your cholesterol as told by your health care provider.
  • Manage your diabetes.
    • Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly are important parts of managing your blood sugar. If your blood sugar cannot be managed through diet and exercise, you may need to take medicines.
    • Take any prescribed medicines to control your diabetes as told by your health care provider.
  • Control your hypertension.
    • To reduce your risk of stroke, try to keep your blood pressure below 130/80.
    • Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly are an important part of controlling your blood pressure. If your blood pressure cannot be managed through diet and exercise, you may need to take medicines.
    • Take any prescribed medicines to control hypertension as told by your health care provider.
    • Ask your health care provider if you should monitor your blood pressure at home.
    • Have your blood pressure checked every year, even if your blood pressure is normal. Blood pressure increases with age and some medical conditions.
  • Get evaluated for sleep disorders (sleep apnea). Talk to your health care provider about getting a sleep evaluation if you snore a lot or have excessive sleepiness.
  • Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your health care provider. Aspirin or blood thinners (antiplatelets or anticoagulants) may be recommended to reduce your risk of forming blood clots that can lead to stroke.
  • Make sure that any other medical conditions you have, such as atrial fibrillation or atherosclerosis, are managed.

What are the warning signs of a stroke?

The warning signs of a stroke can be easily remembered as BEFAST.
  • B is for balance. Signs include:
    • Dizziness.
    • Loss of balance or coordination.
    • Sudden trouble walking.
  • E is for eyes. Signs include:
    • A sudden change in vision.
    • Trouble seeing.
  • F is for face. Signs include:
    • Sudden weakness or numbness of the face.
    • The face or eyelid drooping to one side.
  • A is for arms. Signs include:
    • Sudden weakness or numbness of the arm, usually on one side of the body.
  • S is for speech. Signs include:
    • Trouble speaking (aphasia).
    • Trouble understanding.
  • T is for time.
    • These symptoms may represent a serious problem that is an emergency. Do not wait to see if the symptoms will go away. Get medical help right away. Call your local emergency services (911 in the U.S.). Do not drive yourself to the hospital.
  • Other signs of stroke may include:
    • A sudden, severe headache with no known cause.
    • Nausea or vomiting.
    • Seizure.

Where to find more information

For more information, visit:

Summary

  • You can prevent a stroke by eating healthy, exercising, not smoking, limiting alcohol intake, and managing any medical conditions you may have.
  • Do not use any products that contain nicotine or tobacco, such as cigarettes and e-cigarettes. If you need help quitting, ask your health care provider. It may also be helpful to avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Remember BEFAST for warning signs of stroke. Get help right away if you or a loved one has any of these signs.

This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.

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