Anyone can have a stroke at any age. In fact, stroke is the third leading cause of death in Canada. But what is a stroke anyway? Stroke happens when the blood supply to part of your brain is cut off, either because of a blood clot or a haemorrhage. And the complications of a stroke can impact one’s quality of life. A stroke can cause lasting brain damage, long-term disability, or even death.
Although you can't turn back time, or change your family history, there are other stroke risk factors that you can control. Here are some steps that may help lower your chances of having a stroke.
Exercise contributes to losing weight and lowering blood pressure, and it also helps you control other things that put you at risk, such as obesity, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
Moderate exercise is safe for most people but be sure to talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program.
Regular, low-intensity exercise may also have long-term health benefits and lower the risk for heart problems that may lead to stroke. An additional benefit to low-intensity exercise is the lower risk of injury.
Some low-intensity activities are:
- Gardening and other yard work
Having high blood sugar damages blood vessels over time, making clots more likely to form inside them. Diabetes can also make it harder for your body to respond to a stroke. When your oxygen supply is cut off, other arteries can usually serve as a bypass. But if you have diabetes, those vessels may be hardened or clogged with plaque.
Monitor your blood sugar as directed by your doctor. Use diet, exercise, and medicines to keep your blood sugar within the recommended range.
Smoking accelerates clot formation in a couple of different ways. It thickens your blood, and it increases the amount of plaque buildup in the arteries. Along with a healthy diet and regular exercise, smoking cessation is one of the most powerful lifestyle changes that will help you reduce your stroke risk significantly.
Ask your doctor or Pillway pharmacist for advice on the most appropriate way for you to quit.
Use quit-smoking aids, such as nicotine pills or patches, counselling, or medicine.
Don't give up. Most smokers need several tries to quit. View each attempt as bringing you one step closer to successfully beating the habit.
Being overweight is one of the top ten risk factors for stroke and is associated with almost 1 in 5 strokes. Obesity increases your risk by 64%. Why? Carrying too much weight increases your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes, which all contribute to higher stroke risk.
If you're overweight, losing as little as 10 pounds can have a real impact on your stroke risk.
Pillway pharmacists can participate in stroke prevention and education as well as assess the safety of medications. We are here to help.