There is a general myth that stroke cannot be prevented, however, studies have shown that 80% of strokes can be prevented with healthy lifestyle choices. Stroke prevention is achieved through eating healthy, exercising, quitting smoking, avoiding (or moderating) alcohol consumption and avoiding usage of drugs such as Cocaine.
Prevention of stroke is a long-term and sometimes lifelong process. Few medical conditions such as uncontrolled blood pressure, Diabetes, Sleep Apnea and certain heart diseases make a person more prone to stroke and they need to be monitored and regulated to prevent chances of stroke. The importance and positive impact of alternative options, such as exercise, physical therapy, yoga, and meditation have also been seen for prevention of stroke.
Elderly people, women, people of a certain ethnic group (such as African-Americans) and people with family history of stroke are at high risk of getting a stroke. They are advised to develop a multidisciplinary expertise for stroke prevention.
Studies hint that a healthy diet prevents stroke. Recommended food for stroke prevention include Whole Grain (high Fiber food to control cholesterol), Fruits and Vegetable (rich in antioxidants), Low-fat Dairy products (contains potassium and calcium which helps regulate blood pressure), Fish (contains Omega 3 fatty acid which helps with inflammation) and Lean Protein (helps control cholesterol). Salt or sodium, sugar and processed food are suggested to be minimized.
A regular fitness regime is a key to a healthy life and the same is true for preventing stroke. Exercise helps regulate blood pressure, diabetes level and heart rate. It also helps with coordination, strength building, balance and overall mental health. All these help avoid secondary stroke symptoms like cardiac issues. Exercising helps decrease inflammation which helps maintain healthy blood flow and avoid a stroke.
Several benefits of practicing Yoga include improved balance and better independence with daily activities. Yoga has also been shown to improve cognition, boost mood, and reduce stress – essential factors that help an individual with stroke prevention. Complex, progressively challenging activities like Yoga help the brain prevent a stroke and improve quality of life.
Going through regular health check-ups also plays an important role in stroke prevention. If health-check-up indicates a high blood cholesterol level, an individual can try and control that with regular medication as advised by the physician and diet modification.
BMI(Body Mass Index) should also be checked regularly and should be between 18 and 20. In case an individual falls into the overweight category, exercise should be done regularly and fatty food should be cut as well as more green vegetables should be included in the diet.
If an individual has a history of high blood pressure, he is recommended to take blood pressure (BP) medication regularly, cut down the salt intake and switch to low salt diet. Diabetics should get fasting and postprandial (PP) sugar level checked and also monitor HBA1C level to foresee the possibility of getting a stroke.
Smoking makes blood thick and increases BP, that can make an individual more vulnerable to stroke. Hence, smokers are advised to gradually cut down on smoking per day and try to quit it. Alcohol should also be consumed in moderation or avoided if possible. More than one drink per day can make an individual more vulnerable to stroke.