How to avoid brain stroke

The best way to help prevent stroke is to avoid smoking and drinking too much alcohol, eat healthy foods, and exercise regularly.

These lifestyle changes can lower your risk of problems such as:

  • arteries blocked by fatty substances (atherosclerosis)
  • arterial hypertension
  • high cholesterol

In the past, if you’ve had a stroke, these changes can help in the future to lower your risk of having another stroke.

Diet

Your chances of having a stroke can be increased by poor diet because it can lead to an increase in your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

A diet low in fat and high in fiber is generally recommended, including plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables (5 per day) and whole grains.

Ensuring a balance in your diet is important. Don’t eat too much of one food, especially foods high in salt and processed foods.

You should limit the amount of salt you eat to no more than 6 g (0.2 oz) per day, as too much salt will raise your blood pressure: 6 g of salt equals about 1 teaspoon.

Exercise

Combining a healthy diet with regular physical activity is the best way to maintain a healthy weight.

Regular exercise can also help lower your cholesterol levels and keep your blood pressure healthy.

For most people, at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as biking or brisk walking, each week is recommended.

If you are recovering from a stroke, you should discuss possible exercise plans with members of your rehabilitation team.

Regular exercise may not be possible in the first few weeks or months after a stroke, but you should be able to start exercising once your rehabilitation has progressed.

Stop smoking

Your risk of having a stroke is greatly increased by smoking because it narrows your arteries and makes your blood more likely to clot.

You can reduce your risk of having a stroke by quitting smoking.

Not smoking will also improve your overall health and lower your risk of developing other serious conditions, such as lung cancer and heart disease.

The NHS helpline can offer advice and encouragement to help you quit smoking.

Cut down on your alcohol consumption

Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to high blood pressure and trigger an irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation), both of which can increase the risk of stroke.

Because alcoholic drinks are high in calories, they also lead to weight gain. Excessive alcohol consumption increases the risk of stroke by more than 3 times.

If you choose to drink alcohol and have made a full recovery, you should aim to stay within the recommended limits:

  • men and women are advised not to drink regularly more than 14 units in a week
  • spread your alcohol consumption over 3 days or more if you drink up to 14 units per week