To lower your blood pressure, don’t just eat less sodium. You should also increase your potassium intake, as it speeds up the body’s sodium excretion, say researchers at the Hypertension Institute of Nashville. Lead author Mark Houston, MD, says most Americans consume more sodium than potassium, but it should be the other way around. Some popular potassium-rich foods to help fix this: baked potatoes, tomato paste, lima beans, yogurt, cantaloupe, and bananas.
Up to 80 percent of all strokes can be prevented—start reducing risk now.
Although stroke can happen to anyone, certain risk factors can increase chances of a stroke. However, studies show that up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented by working with a healthcare professional to reduce personal risk. It is important to manage personal risk and know how to recognize and respond to stroke signs and symptoms. Learn interactively about more than 20 leading risk factors for stroke through the interactive risk factor tool.
Stroke Prevention Guidelines
The following Stroke Prevention Guidelines will help you learn how you may be able to lower your risk for a first stroke.
National Stroke Association’s Stroke Prevention Advisory Board, an elite group of the nation’s leading experts on stroke prevention, established the first Stroke Prevention Guidelines. They were published in a 1999 issue of Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and have been updated to reflect current medical standards.
Talk to a healthcare professional and follow these guidelines.
High blood pressure is a major stroke risk factor if left untreated. Have blood pressure checked yearly by a doctor or at health fairs, a local pharmacy or supermarket or with an automatic blood pressure machine.
Afib is an abnormal heartbeat that can increase stroke risk by 500%. Afib can cause blood to pool in the heart and may form a clot and cause a stroke. A doctor must diagnose and treat Afib.
Smoking doubles the risk of stroke. It damages blood vessel walls, speeds up artery clogging, raises blood pressure and makes the heart work harder.
Alcohol use has been linked to stroke in many studies. Most doctors recommend not drinking or drinking only in moderation - no more than two drinks each day.
Cholesterol is a fatty substance in blood that is made by the body. It also comes in food. High cholesterol levels can clog arteries and cause a stroke. See a doctor if your total cholesterol level is more than 200.
Many people with diabetes have health problems that are also stroke risk factors. A doctor and dietitian can help manage diabetes.
Excess weight strains the circulatory system. Exercise five times a week. Maintain a diet low in calories, salt, saturated and trans fats and cholesterol. Eat five servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
Fatty deposits can block arteries carrying blood to the brain and lead to a stroke. Other problems such as sickle cell disease or severe anemia should be treated.
A TIA is a temporary episode of stroke-like symptoms that can last a few minutes to 24 hours but usually causes no permanent damage or disability. TIA and stroke symptoms are the same. Recognizing and treating a TIA can reduce stroke risk. Up to 40 percent of people who experience a TIA may have a stroke.
Manage personal risk. Fill out the Stroke Risk Scorecard and discuss with a healthcare professional.
Go bananas with potassium
Cook with garlic
Just one clove a day—or 300 mg 3 times daily—reduces the risk of a heart attack at least three ways: It discourages red blood cells from sticking together and blocking your arteries, it reduces arterial damage, and it discourages cholesterol from lining those arteries and making them so narrow that blockages are likely.
Start or end your day with stretching
Flexibility may be key to heart health: Adults over age 40 who were the most limber had 30% less stiffness in the arteries than less-bendy participants in a recent Japanese study. Stretching for 10 to 15 minutes a day may keep arteries pliable; they may be affected by the elasticity of the muscles and tissue that surround them.
Take a 20-minute walk
Just 2.5 hours of exercise a week (that’s a little more than 20 minutes a day) could reduce heart attacks by one-third, prevent 285,000 deaths from heart disease in the United States alone, and practically eliminate type 2 diabetes.