elderly man experiencing loss of balance from strokeAlthough stroke is the fifth leading cause of death, it is also largely preventable.

Nearly 800,000 Americans have a stroke every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Strokes occur when the blood supply to the brain is blocked or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts.

The elderly are at the greatest risk of having a stroke, with two-thirds of all victims over the age of 65. Fortunately, there are many health and lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of having a stroke. 

Lifestyle Changes To Help Prevent Stroke

Embassy Healthcare, with communities throughout Ohio, offers the following tips on preventing stroke:

  • Lose weight: Obesity is connected to a lot of stroke risk factors. Discuss with your doctor a realistic body mass index and how you can reach it. In general, consume between 1,500-2,000 calories a day and increase your exercise level with some of the following low-impact activities: walking, playing golf, tennis or even activities such as gardening. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise, five times a day.
  • Decrease blood pressure: Having high blood pressure can quadruple your risk of stroke. It’s important to monitor it regularly and treat it if it’s elevated. An ideal reading is 135/85, but it may be slightly higher for some. Cut back on salt, fast food, cheese, and ice cream, while aiming to eat up to five cups of fruits and vegetables each day.
  • Stop smoking: Tobacco usage promotes the formation of clots by thickening the blood, increasing plaque buildup in arteries. Quitting smoking is one of the most impactful things you can do to decrease your stroke risk.
  • Drink in moderation: The good news is that having up to two drinks per day lowers your stroke risk, according to studies. The bad news is that if you consume more than that, your risk rises sharply. Red wine is the best choice because it contains resveratrol, thought to offer protection to the brain and heart.
  • Keep diabetes in check: Elevated blood sugar in your system damages blood vessels, increasing the risk of clots forming. Consult with your physician about monitoring your blood sugar levels.

Respond Quickly to a Stroke

Acting quickly in the case of a stroke is key to recovery. The National Stroke Association created the FAST acronym to help you remember what to look for in yourself or others:

  • F for Face: Does one side of the face droop?
  • A for Arms: Does one arm fall back down when you raise your arms?
  • S for Speech: Is speech slurred or odd-sounding?
  • T for Time: Don’t delay – if you see any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.

To learn more about services available at Embassy Healthcare, call 888-975-1379 or contact us online.