How to Cut Your Stroke Risk by More Than 50%

By | November 20, 2014

ischemic-stroke2Stroke is a silent and surprisingly common killer – 15 million people annually suffer from a stroke across the world. Of those, 5 million die from the stroke and another 5 million are permanently disabled, according to the WHO.

Ischemic stroke (also called cerebral infarction) is caused by a blockage in a blood vessel leading to the brain, preventing blood and oxygen from getting to an area of the brain. Ischemic stroke is by far the most common cause of stroke, accounting for up to 85 percent of all strokes. More women than men are affected by stroke by about a 60%/40% ratio.

A recent study by Sweden’s Karolinska Institute tracked over 31,000 women for 10 years, and researchers identified several health factors that substantially decreased (by 54%) the risk of stroke in study participants:

healthy-brain-food1-21. Healthy Diet Patterns

Fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grain breads, lean chicken and fish (salmon, mackerel, trout, herring, tuna, etc.), low fat/non-fat dairy products.

2. Moderate Alcohol Consumption

Moderate alcohol consumption is associated with lower rates of heart disease, ischemic stroke, and lower risk of dementia. This health association generalizes to wine, beer, and liquor/spirits.

Moderate amounts of alcohol raise levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or “good” cholesterol), and higher HDL levels are associated with greater protection against heart disease.

In practical terms, moderate alcohol use means 1 (one) drink per day, typically with the evening meal.

3. Regular Physical Exercise

weight-trainingExercise encourages growth of new brain blood vessels, though increased production of neurotrophins such as BDNF and IGF-1, which also promote the growth and repair of brain cells.

“Regular” physical exercise means at least 40+ minutes of moderate daily activity (walking, cycling), along with at least 60 minutes per week of more vigorous aerobic activity.

4. Abstain from Smoking

Smoking is very bad news for your brain, heart and lungs. The best way to not smoke is to never start.

5. Body Mass Index (BMI) Less Than 25

Use this free calculator to determine your BMI.

The first four health factors are completely within the choice and control of the individual. Genetics and body type can impact whether everybody can achieve BMI < 25, but following #1 thru #4 will go a long way to reducing the risk of stroke. See also: Stroke Signs and Symptoms

See also: Healthy Brain Food Choices