Strategies to Avoid Stroke

By Robert Goldman, M.D., Ph.D.
and Ronald Klatz, M.D., D.O.

A stroke occurs either when the blood supply to part of the brain is blocked or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts, causing damage to a part of the brain. A stroke is also sometimes called a brain attack. Among survivors, stroke can cause significant disability, including paralysis as well as speech and emotional problems.

According to the World Health Organization, each year 15 million people worldwide suffer a stroke. Of these, 5 million die and another 5 million are left permanently disabled.

Scientists and physicians have posited that preventive measures may reduce the chances of a person succumbing to a stroke. In this article, we present potential preventive strategies for consideration.

Smoke Out Stroke. Cigarette smoking is a major, preventable risk factor for stroke. The nicotine and carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke reduce the amount of oxygen in your blood. They also damage the walls of blood vessels, making clots more likely to form. If you smoke, quit; if you don’t smoke, do not start.

Suppress the Pressure. Treating hypertension (high blood pressure) can reduce the risk of a stroke by up to 40 percent, reports the World Health Organization. High blood pressure (generally, 140/90 mm Hg or higher; however, anti-aging physicians aim for readings less than 120/80) is the most important risk factor for stroke. The US government’s Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet can help, providing menus low in salt and calories and high in nutrients. Consumer a variety of nuts, seeds, and beans, watch your intake of meats, poultry, and fish and expand your repertoire of vegetables. Go easy on processed foods, salty snacks and cured meats.

Curb Cholesterol. High blood cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease, which can increase the risk for stroke. Preventing and treating high blood cholesterol includes eating a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol and higher in fiber, keeping a healthy weight and getting regular exercise.

Avoid Diabetes. People with diabetes have a higher risk of stroke, but the risk is modifiable. Further, recent studies suggest that all people can take steps to reduce their risk for diabetes. These include weight loss and regular physical activity.

Maintain a Healthy Weight. Healthy weight status in adults is usually assessed by using weight and height to compute a number called the body mass index (BMI). BMI is used because it relates to the amount of body fat for most people. An adult who has a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese. Overweight is a BMI between 25 and 29.9. Normal weight is a BMI of 18 to 24.9. Proper diet and regular physical activity can help to maintain a healthy weight.

Fish Around and Cut Your Stroke Risk. Stroke Journal Report states that “several foods and nutrients have been linked to the risk of stroke; therefore, dietary modification may be an important way to reduce the risk of stroke. Tracking the diet of 4,775 adults for 12 years, in 2005 Harvard scientists revealed findings on the association between different types of fish meals and the risk of stroke in men and women aged 65 and older. They found that eating broiled or baked fish one to four times per week lowered stroke risk by 28 percent and dining on the same for five or more times per week reduced the risk by 32 percent. By comparison, fried fish and fish sandwich consumption was associated with a 37 percent increased risk of stroke.

Moderate Alcohol Consumption. Excessive alcohol use can increase the risk of high blood pressure, which thereby increases the risk of stroke. People who drink should do so in moderation.

In conclusion, we cite the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which states that “all people can take steps to lower their risk for stroke, whether they have had a stroke or not.”

Drs. Goldman and Klatz are the co-founders of the anti-aging medical movement and serve, respectively, as chairman and president of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of technology to detect, prevent and treat aging-related disease and to promote research into methods to retard and optimize the human aging process.

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