Lifestyle Changes You Can Make to Prevent Stroke | Carson Tahoe Health

Lifestyle Changes You Can Make to Prevent Stroke

Small changes can make a big difference in stroke prevention.

1. Eat smart.

A healthy diet helps you manage your blood pressure and maintain a healthy weight, both of which can help prevent stroke. Specialists with Carson Tahoe Health Nutrition Therapies provide nutrition education and support that can help you create healthy eating habits for the long term. Try making these small, healthy changes to your diet:

  • Add one serving of fruits or vegetables to your snacks and meals.
  • Choose lean protein, such as chicken, turkey or fish.
  • Include non-meat protein sources—such as tofu, nuts, or beans—for a few meals a week.
  • Trade white breads and pastas for whole-grain options, and opt for brown rice instead of white.
  • Season dishes with spices, herbs, or citrus fruits to limit your salt intake.

2. Get moving.

Exercise helps manage your blood pressure, keeps your cardiovascular system healthy, and assists in weight control—all of which can help lower your stroke risk. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends most adults aim for roughly 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week, keeping in mind that every minute you spend moving counts toward your goal. Taking five- or 10-minute fitness breaks throughout the day to stretch or go for a walk can have a big impact. Look for little ways to add movement throughout the day, such as taking a walk during your lunch break or choosing a parking space farther away from building entrances.

3. Shake the stress.

It’s easier said than done, but managing your stress levels will help you decrease your stroke risk. Control stressful situations in healthy ways, such as deep breathing, meditation, journaling, or talking to someone about how you feel. Avoid smoking, emotional eating, or drinking too much alcohol, as these can increase your risk of stroke.

4. Sleep right.

You may think that sleeping in on the weekends to make up for lost time will help, but it’s best to avoid it. A recent study published in Neurology found that adults who sleep more than nine hours a night may have an increased risk for stroke. Instead, aim for the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep, and keep your bedtime consistent throughout the week.

Get Screened

The most common type of stroke is called ischemic stroke, which can occur when an artery becomes blocked or too narrow for blood to flow to the brain. One of the ways this can happen is if plaque buildup made from calcium, cholesterol, and fat damages the body’s blood vessels.

“That’s called atherosclerosis,” says Neil Aboul- Hosn, DO, Cardiologist with Carson Tahoe Health. “It can also cause peripheral vascular disease (PVD), which makes the arteries in the lower legs harden and narrow. Because there is a strong link between PVD and coronary artery disease, which can lead to stroke, preventive measures, such as early testing and treatment, are highly recommended.”

Participating in events to raise awareness is also an important step in making the community more aware of how they can prevent stroke and heart disease.

“We participate in two events: the American Heart and Stroke Associations walk and CycleNation, a two-hour stationary bike ride— both to raise awareness of stroke and heart disease,” adds Mina Fiddyment, Manager of the Carson Tahoe Health & Wellness Institute. “We promote these events to help people learn how exercising can help minimize their risk of stroke and heart disease. Exercising a few times a week and getting screened once a year can really benefit your health.”

Learn more about cardiovascular care available at Carson Tahoe Health.