Eating Mediterranean or DASH-style diets, regularly engaging in physical activity and keeping your blood pressure under control can lower your risk of a first-time stroke, according to updated guidelines published in the American Heart Association's journal Stroke.
"We have a huge opportunity to improve how we prevent new strokes, because risk factors that can be changed or controlled -- especially high blood pressure -- account for 90 percent of strokes," said the lead author of the study.
The updated guidelines recommend these tips to lower risk:
- Eat a Mediterranean or DASH-style diet, supplemented with nuts. Mediterranean-style or DASH-style diets are similar in their emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, poultry and fish. Both are limited in red meat and foods containing saturated fats, which are mostly found in animal-based products such as meat, butter, cheese and full-fat dairy.
Mediterranean-style diets are generally low in dairy products and DASH-style diets emphasize low-fat dairy products.
- Don't smoke. Smoking and taking oral birth control pills can significantly increase your stroke risk. If you're a woman who experiences migraines with aura, smoking raises your risk of stroke even more than in the general population.Avoiding secondhand smoke also lowers stroke and heart attack risks, according to the guidelines.
The writing committee reviewed existing guidelines, randomized clinical trials and some observational studies.
- Monitor high blood pressure at home with a cuff device. Keep pre-hypertension from becoming high blood pressure by making lifestyle changes such as getting more physical activity, eating a healthy diet and managing your weight.
- Reduce the amount of sodium in your diet; sodium is found mostly in salt.
- Visit your healthcare provider annually for blood pressure evaluation.
- If your medication to lower blood pressure doesn't work or has bad side effects, talk to your healthcare provider about finding a combination of drugs that work for you.
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.