Do you know your risk for stroke?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every four minutes, someone in the United States dies from a stroke, making stroke the fifth leading cause of death for Americans.
If you’re looking for ways to help lower your risk of stroke, a recent University of Oxford study published in the European Heart Journal found that not only does your diet matter, but the different subtypes of stroke do too.
In the study, researchers investigated the association between various foods with stroke in over 418,000 men and women from nine European countries. Rather than assessing the risk of total stroke like many past studies, this study examined the risks of ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke separately.
Ischemic strokes occur when an artery in the brain becomes blocked. It’s the most common type of stroke, contributing to 87% of all strokes in the United States. Hemorrhagic strokes occur when a blood vessel within the brain bursts, causing blood to leak inside the brain.
According to the study, those who consumed more fruits, vegetables, fiber, milk, cheese or yogurt had a lower risk of ischemic stroke. However, there was no association with a lower risk of hemorrhagic stroke. On the other hand, higher egg consumption was associated with a higher risk of hemorrhagic stroke, but not ischemic stroke.
“Ischemic strokes and hemorrhagic strokes have different characteristics, and this study further shows that they also have different risk factors,” says Dr. Beth Keefe, an internal medicine physician at Aurora Health Center in Hartland, WI.
Other risk factors for ischemic strokes include heart disease, obesity, smoking and diabetes. Smoking is also a risk factor for hemorrhagic strokes, along with high blood pressure and excessive alcohol consumption.
You can lower your risk of stroke by leading a healthier lifestyle. Dr. Keefe advises doing the following:
- Lower your blood pressure, maintaining a blood pressure of less than 140/85.
- Physical activity can help you lose weight, lower your blood pressure and lower your cholesterol – all risk factors for stroke.
- Drink in moderation. One glass of alcohol per day doesn’t increase your risk for stroke but drinking more can.
- Don’t smoke. If you are a smoker, quit.
- Treat other conditions like diabetes and atrial fibrillation, which can increase your risk of clots that produce stroke.
“Stroke is among the top causes of death in the United States, yet 80% of strokes are preventable,” Dr. Keefe explains. “Know your risk factors – many of which can be determined during a routine physical with your doctor.”
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