Written by Cindy Charlton, Director of the Neurological Rehabilitation Center at Easterseals Colorado
As the program director of Easterseals Colorado Neuro Rehab Center, I see many stroke survivors in our Neuro Rehab Adult Day program. Because of this, I know how important it is to get the word(s) out and raise awareness about stroke.
It’s important for people to know and understand that they can help in their own prevention of stroke by making good healthy choices of living. A nutritious diet, not smoking, drinking a minimum amount of alcohol, and exercising regularly can greatly reduce the risk of having a stroke.
Interestingly women are at a higher risk factor for having stroke than men, simply because women live longer. Stroke has been considered an “older age” occurrence, but we are noting that younger people are affected more by stroke now than in previous years.
Here are some good preventative actions to take to reduce your risk of having a stroke:
DO NOT SMOKE.
Smoking doubles the risk of stroke when compared to a nonsmoker. Smoking increases clot formation, thickens blood, and increases the amount of plaque buildup in the arteries. If you smoke, try as hard as possible to stop. Ask your doctor about quit-smoking aids like nicotine patches, counseling, and programs that are available to you. Quitting smoking can be difficult, so don’t give up if you are not successful the first time you try.
EAT A HEALTHY DIET.
A variety of vegetables from all of the subgroups — dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), fruits, especially whole fruits, grains, at least half of which are whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages, variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), and nuts, seeds, and soy products, and oils. Cut down on sodium (salt) and sugar.
MOVE THAT BODY!
Physical activity includes anything that gets your body moving. A recent study showed that people who exercise five or more times per week have a reduced stroke risk.
DRINK ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES IN MODERATION (or not at all).
Alcohol use has been linked to stroke in many studies. Drinking too much alcohol can increase blood pressure and the risk of stroke. Aim to drink in moderation – no more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women.
One drink is equal to:
12 ounces of beer
5 ounces of wine (1 glass)
1 ¼ to 1 ½ ounces of liquor