A stroke is a sudden interruption of blood flow to the brain that affects almost 800,000 people in the United States each year with long term disability or death. About 75% of strokes happen in people who are of retirement age (over age 65), but the good news is that there are simple and natural solutions which can significantly reduce the risk of stroke.
About the Cause of Stroke
Strokes may be caused by a variety of factors, and the cause determines the type of stroke that the victim suffers. The three main types of strokes are: hemorrhagic stroke, ischemic stroke, and transient ischemic attack (TIA). The first two types of stroke are more severe and TIA is referred to as a “mini-stroke” because it leaves less damage. However, those who suffer from TIA should take it as a warning sign because this means they are much more at risk of having a full-blown stroke.
Ischemic strokes are caused a blockage or narrowing of the blood vessels which can be caused by a blood clot either in the brain or elsewhere in the body. The large majority if strokes are of this variety. Hemorrhagic strokes can be caused by high blood pressure, weak blood vessel walls (aneurysms), or other reasons.
Who is at Risk of a Stroke?
As mentioned, those who have previously been affected by a mini-stroke (TIA) are much more at risk of having a full blown stroke. In addition, women in the middle of their lives are twice as likely as men of their same age to have a stroke. Some of the increase can be attributed to pregnancy, complications in pregnancy, birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy, and even depression. Other risk factors include diseases such as diabetes, high cholesterol (of the bad sort), heart disease, and high blood pressure.
Natural Prevention of Stroke
The good news is that, because of the nature of strokes, there are some natural lifestyle changes that we can make to minimize how susceptible we are to strokes.
Some of the most basic ways to prevent a stroke are similar to the other various ways we remain healthy and prevent other diseases.
1. Manage Diet and Weight
Those who have healthy eating habits are less likely to develop some of the conditions that can lead to stroke, such as diabetes or hypertension. So keep an eye on that fat intake and head to the fruit bowl instead.
2. Proper Sleep
Sleeping too much can actually be bad for you! In fact, those who get ten or more hours of sleep at night may be over 60% more likely to have a stroke! Plus, those who snore may be twice as likely to develop health problems leading to stroke. If you are sleeping to long or snoring loudly, set an alarm or check with your doctor.
3. Minimize Depression
Clinical depression can be difficult to diagnose, but those who struggle with depression may find themselves almost 30% more likely to have a stroke. Getting appropriate treatment for depression can increase overall health and limit the risk of stroke. Check with your doctor if you are experiencing signs of depression.
Most of know, but don’t always want to hear, that exercising 20 minutes per day can be extremely effective in increasing our overall health. A quick but brisk walk, a short workout, or another twenty minutes of uninterrupted exercise can make a world of difference. Just walking for a total of two hours a week can reduce your chance of stroke by 30%. Those who walk a bit faster can raise that to 40%.
5. Drug Use
Those who use recreational drugs may be much more likely to suffer from a stroke. This includes cocaine, methamphetamines, and even smoking.
6. Olive Oil
This might fall under the category of healthy diet, but it’s worth mentioning on its own. Simply switching from vegetable oil or corn oil to olive oil may cut the chance of stroke by up to 40% in those over the age of 65. Also, olive oil can lower your risk of heart attack.
Not only does a healthy lifestyle decrease your risk of having a stroke, but it also increases the quality of life, allowing you to enjoy the life that you do have to a greater degree. Try these simple and inexpensive habits to significantly reduce the risk of stroke for you and those you love.