How to Lower Your Risk of Stroke

February 2023

A stroke happens when something blocks blood flow and oxygen to your brain. A blood clot can block the flow, or a blood vessel can weaken or burst.

Strokes are the fifth leading cause of death for both men and women. But there are things you can do to reduce your risk of stroke.

1. Get your blood pressure checked.

The main cause of stroke is high blood pressure. But since it has no symptoms, you may not know you have it. If you learn your blood pressure is high, your doctor can recommend treatment options to control it.

2. Eat less saturated fat and sodium.

Diets high in saturated fat and sodium can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, all of which increase your risk of stroke. Choose lean proteins that are lower in fat, such as chicken or fish. And aim for low-sodium snacks — like fresh fruit or veggies — instead of chips.

3. Take brisk walks.

Staying active helps you control your blood pressure and maintain a healthy weight. If you’re an adult, aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise at least five times per week. Jogging, biking, and swimming are also good options.

4. Quit smoking.

Nicotine increases your blood pressure, and cigarette smoke can damage blood vessels and your heart.

5. Choose a mocktail instead of a cocktail.

Too much booze can increase your blood pressure and triglyceride levels (blood fat that can harden and narrow arteries in your brain). Limit alcohol consumption to no more than one drink per day if you’re a woman — and no more than two per day if you’re a man.

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