Some risk factors for stroke — age, gender, race, family history — are not controllable. But even if you fall into a higher-risk category, there are still things you can do to reduce your chances of stroke.
According to the National Stroke Association, 80% of all strokes are preventable. The NSA offers a list of guidelines including these, for reducing your risk:
If you smoke, quit. Smoking doubles your risk of stroke.
If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Limit alcoholic beverages to 2/day.
Exercise. As little as 30 minutes of walking each day offers many benefits; find an exercise buddy to keep you motivated.
Eat a reduced-sodium, reduced-fat diet. Focus on vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and lean proteins; keep added salt and fat to a minimum.
Know the symptoms. Remember, act FAST — look for drooping of face when smiling, difficulty raising arms above the head, and slurring or other speech difficulties — and get treatment as quickly as possible, because time is of the essence.
Ask your doctor about medical tests for atrial fibrillation, circulation problems, or diabetes and to evaluate and monitor your blood pressure as well as cholesterol levels.