Stroke recovery: Lifestyle measures you can do now to slash risk of further brain damage
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One in four stroke survivors will have another one, the American Stroke Association cautioned. However, up to 80 percent of strokes “may be prevented with a combination of medication and healthy habits”. How could you minimise your risk of another stroke – one that could be extremely more damaging?
Based on the most recent research on stroke prevention, controlling risk factors for stroke is “critical” to prevent further brain damage. This will require “maintaining healthy numbers for blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol”.
A healthy blood pressure reading, for the majority of adults, is between 90/60mmHg to 120/80mmHg, according to the NHS.
Your doctor or healthcare professional will discuss with you the blood pressure reading you should be aiming for.
Diabetes UK highlighted a “target range” for blood sugar, which should be between 4-7mmol/l.
Healthy cholesterol levels, Heart UK pointed out, should read as a total (serum) cholesterol of 5mmol/L or below (below 193mg/dL).
As for non-HDL (non high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, it should be below 4mmol/L (below 155mg/dL).
And HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol should “ideally” be around 1.4mmol/L.
All these readings – from blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure – can be obtained from a health check at a pharmacy.
People aged 40 and over are also able to get these readings, but for free, by booking a health check-up with their doctor.
Lifestyle habits greatly influence these readings, and to help improve your health, it’s good to:
- Be a non-smoker
- Limit alcohol intake
- Eat a healthy diet
- Engage in regular physical activity
- Avoid prolonged periods of sitting or lying down.
“Low salt and/or Mediterranean diets are recommended for reducing the possibility of another stroke,” the American Stroke Association stated.
“Stroke survivors are [also] encouraged to exercise or be active for at least 10 minutes, four times a week, or to have more vigorous activity at least 20 minutes twice a week.”
Most patients who have had an ischaemic stroke – from a blood clot to other blockages in blood vessels in the brain – will need medication.
The American Stroke Association explained: “The medication prevents blood clots or prevents blockages in the blood vessels supplying blood flow to the brain.
“It’s important to take these medications according to your health care professional’s instructions.”
If you would like more support in preventing a future stroke, speak to your healthcare professional.
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