What You Can Do to Help Prevent Stroke

The prevalence of stroke may be frightening, but the good news is about four in five strokes are preventable. Learn seven strategies that can help reduce your risk of suffering a stroke.

How to Help Prevent a Stroke

Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke, and stroke is a leading cause of long-term disability and death. Thinking about the prevalence of stroke may feel frightening, but there is some good news: About four in five strokes are preventable for both men and women.

In honor of American Stroke Month, let’s explore seven things you can do to help reduce your risk of suffering a stroke.

  • 1

    Maintain a Normal Blood Pressure

    Uncontrolled high blood pressure can cause arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the brain to burst or be blocked, causing a stroke.

    The American Heart Association shares the following blood pressure categories to help people understand what their systolic and diastolic numbers mean. However, keep in mind that a diagnosis of high blood pressure must be confirmed by a medical professional.

    Prevent Stroke

    If you have high blood pressure, your doctor may recommend certain lifestyle or dietary changes you can make to naturally lower your numbers. They may also prescribe medication.

    Read up on how reducing stress can improve your health.

  • 2

    Don’t Smoke, and if You Drink Alcohol, Practice Moderation

    People who smoke 20 cigarettes a day are six times more likely to have a stroke than people who don’t smoke. That’s because smoking causes inflammation and damage to the blood vessels and can lead to a buildup of plaque in the arteries.

    There are many resources available to help you quit smoking, such as counseling, support groups and nicotine replacement therapies. Check out the CDC’s Quit Smoking website for resources for quitting. 

    As for alcohol, the CDC recommends two drinks or less a day for men and one drink or less a day for women.

    Read our blog, Alcohol: How Much is Too Much?

  • 3

    Keep Your Blood Sugar at a Normal Level

    Over time, excessive blood sugar can result in increased fatty deposits or clots in blood vessels, causing stroke. This leads people with diabetes to be twice as likely to have a stroke as people who do not.

    Talk to your doctor about getting an A1C test, which shows your average blood glucose levels for the past three months.

    You can also help keep your blood sugar stable by reducing your sugar and refined carb intake.

  • 4

    Keep Your Cholesterol at a Normal Level

    High levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL)—aka “bad cholesterol”—can increase your risk of having a stroke as it contributes to the buildup of plaque deposits in blood vessels.

    Talk to your doctor about getting a cholesterol test, a simple blood test that should be performed every four to six years. If you have high cholesterol, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes or medication to keep your numbers at a healthy level.  

  • 5

    Get Heart Disease Treated

    If you have certain heart conditions, such as coronary artery disease or atrial fibrillation, you may be at an increased risk of stroke. Follow your health team’s treatment or surgery recommendations to help reduce your risk.

  • 6


    Exercise contributes to losing weight and helps control other risk factors like high blood pressure.

    The CDC recommends adults get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity and two days of muscle strengthening activity each week. Here are some ideas to help you get moving:

    • Take a brisk walk every day after breakfast
    • Get a workout buddy to keep you accountable
    • Take the stairs instead of an elevator when you can
    • Check out SilverSneakers for free gym memberships for seniors and access to online video workouts
  • 7

    Eat Healthy

    Focus on a diet that’s low in saturated fats, trans fat and cholesterol. Many medical professionals recommend the Mediterranean diet for reducing risk of stroke. This diet is largely composed of fruits, healthy fats, beans, vegetables and whole grains.

    Want more? Check out these 4 Simple Ways to Prioritize Your Health.

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