The best way to prevent a stroke is to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and avoid smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol.
A poor diet is a major risk factor for a stroke. High-fat foods can lead to the build-up of fatty plaques in your arteries and being overweight can lead to high blood pressure.
A low-fat, high-fibre diet is recommended, including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (five portions a day) and whole grains. You should limit the amount of salt you eat to no more than 6g (0.2oz) a day because too much salt will increase your blood pressure. Six grams of salt is about one teaspoonful.
There are two types of fat – saturated and unsaturated. You should avoid food containing saturated fats because these will increase your cholesterol levels.
Foods high in saturated fat include:
However, a balanced diet should include a small amount of unsaturated fat, which will help reduce your cholesterol levels.
Foods high in unsaturated fat include:
Combining a healthy diet with regular exercise is the best way to maintain a healthy weight. Having a healthy weight reduces your chances of developing high blood pressure.
Regular exercise will make your heart and blood circulatory system more efficient. It will also lower your cholesterol level and keep your blood pressure at a healthy level.
The recommended level of cholesterol is 5mmol/litre (5 millimoles per litre of blood).
Blood pressure is measured using two figures. One figure represents the pressure of the heart as it contracts to pump blood around the body. This is known as the systolic pressure. The second figure represents the pressure of the heart as it rests, expands and fills with blood, while waiting for the next contraction. This is known as the diastolic pressure.
For most people, an ideal blood pressure is a systolic pressure of 90-120 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and a diastolic pressure of 60-80mmHg. Or, as blood pressure is normally expressed, a level between 90/60mmHg or 120/80mmHg.
For most people, at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e. cycling or fast walking) every week is recommended.
If you are recovering from a stroke, you should discuss possible exercise plans with the members of your rehabilitation team. Regular exercise may be impossible in the first weeks or months following a stroke but you should be able to begin exercising once your rehabilitation has progressed.
Smoking doubles your risk of having a stroke. This is because
it narrows your arteries and makes your blood more likely to clot.If you stop smoking, you can reduce your risk of having a stroke by up to half. Not smoking will also improve your general health
and reduce your risk of developing other serious conditions, such as lung cancer and heart disease *NHS CHOICES
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