Doctor in white coat with stethoscope around neck
Sean Cate
Sean Cate
June 18, 2024 ·  3 min read

Stroke Prevention: 7 Things You Should Never Do, According to Doctors

Strokes are a leading cause of death and disability in the United States, according to the American Stroke Association. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 80% of strokes are preventable through lifestyle changes. With such a high potential for prevention, it’s crucial to be aware of behaviors and habits that can increase your risk of stroke. Here are seven things you should never do if you want to lower your risk of having a stroke.

1. Have a Sedentary Lifestyle

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A sedentary lifestyle significantly increases your risk of stroke. Dr. Arthur Wang, director of endovascular neurosurgery at Tulane University School of Medicine, emphasizes the importance of regular physical activity. “Regular physical activity helps keep your blood vessels clog-free and stops the buildup of plaque in the arteries,” Wang explains.1 The recommendation is at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week, which can include activities like walking, biking, or gardening.

Read More: Oversleeping Can Increase Your Risk of Stroke by Up to 85 Percent: Study

2. Ignore High Blood Pressure

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Blood pressure is the most significant modifiable risk factor for stroke prevention. Dr. Anthony Kim, a vascular neurologist, stresses that managing blood pressure is crucial. “If you took a magic wand and waved it and suddenly eliminated high blood pressure from the U.S. population, there would be 60% fewer strokes,” Kim notes. Regular monitoring and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help manage blood pressure effectively.

3. Skip Regular Check-Ups

old man doctor

Image for illustrative purposes only. Credit: Pixabay

Skipping regular medical check-ups can prevent the early detection of risk factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol. Dr. Cheng-Han Chen, an interventional cardiologist, highlights the importance of these visits. “There are some tests that patients can’t do for themselves, such as blood tests for cholesterol and diabetes,” Chen says.2 Regular check-ups help monitor these silent risk factors and ensure you’re on track with a healthy lifestyle.

4. Smoke

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Credit: Smoking

Smoking is a significant risk factor for stroke, as it causes blood vessels to narrow, leading to blockages. Both Dr. Kim and Dr. Wang agree that quitting smoking increases the ability of heart disease and stroke prevention. Quitting smoking can improve your overall health and significantly reduce your risk of stroke.

Read More: Artificial Sweeteners May Raise Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke, New Study Finds.

5. Drink Too Much Alcohol

Stop Drinking Alcohol. Refuse Glass Of Whisky. Say No
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Excessive alcohol consumption is linked to an increased risk of stroke. The CDC defines excessive drinking as more than four drinks in one sitting for women or five for men, and more than eight drinks per week for women and 15 for men. Dr. Kim advises moderation, suggesting that women limit themselves to one drink per day and men to two.

6. Ignore Your Diet

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Diet plays a critical role in stroke prevention. Consuming foods high in saturated fats, sugars, and salt can increase stroke risk. Dr. Wang recommends a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in saturated fats. Following guidelines like the Mediterranean or DASH diet can help manage cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

7. Dismiss Necessary Treatment

Older worker feeling strong headache. Stroke symptoms. Migraine as severe headache with throbbing pain.
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Ignoring the symptoms of a stroke or delaying treatment can lead to severe consequences. Dr. Kim emphasizes the importance of recognizing symptoms and seeking immediate medical attention if stroke prevention isn’t possible. The acronym FAST (Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 9-1-1) is a useful tool to identify stroke symptoms. Early intervention can greatly improve outcomes.

Conclusion

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Stroke prevention involves a proactive approach to lifestyle choices and health management. Regular exercise, monitoring and controlling blood pressure, attending routine check-ups, avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol, maintaining a healthy diet, and seeking timely medical treatment are all crucial steps. By avoiding these seven risk factors, you can significantly reduce your chances of experiencing a stroke and lead a healthier, more active life.

Read More: Your Blood Type Indicates Your Risk of Early Stroke, Scientists Find

Sources

  1. 7 Things Stroke Doctors Say You Should Never, Ever Do.” Huff Post.
    Jillian Wilson. September 8, 2023.
  2. This Is the One Thing Stroke Doctors Say You Should Absolutely Never Do.” Parade. Jessica Sager. September 20, 2023.