March 25, 2019
Seniors running

9 Strategies for Preventing Stroke

by Stephanie Watson  

To reduce your likelihood of having a stroke, follow these strategies:

  • If you smoke, quit.
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet low in saturated fat and salt, and high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and olive oil.
  • Exercise for at least 40 minutes three or more days a week.
  • Lose excess weight.
  • Curb heavy drinking.
  • Monitor your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels and manage them with diet, exercise, and medicines, if needed.
  • If you had preeclampsia or eclampsia, make sure your doctor knows.
  • If you have atrial fibrillation, ask your doctor whether you need to take blood thinners.
  • If you are over 65 or have diabetes, ask your doctor if you should take a daily low-dose aspirin. Never start aspirin therapy without your doctor’s clearance.

There are some risk factors besides being female that you can’t change:

  • Your age. After age 55, the risk of a stroke doubles with each decade.
  • Your race. African-Americans and Hispanics are at increased risk of having a stroke and dying from one.
  • Your genes. If one or both of your parents had a stroke, odds increase that you may, too.

Having unmodifiable risk factors makes it even more important to do whatever you can to mitigate your modifiable ones.

This article first appeared in the August 2018 issue of UC Berkeley Health After 50.