Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Stroke
The annual incidence of stroke in the country ( United States) has increased from 13 per 100,000 in 1969 to 145 per 100,000 in 2006. The costs of acute care and managing these patients in long term are astounding. In another study, the overall DALYs (Disability Adjusted Life Years) lost due to stroke were 795.57 per 100,000 person years. This means that if 100,000 people were to live for one year, about 800 people will be disabled due to stroke and will not be able to go to work.
As individuals, we should be aware of the healthy ways of living to prevent a stroke. In this article, I will discuss some of the lifestyle changes that we can adopt in order to decrease the risk of having a stroke and heart attack.
How to make lifestyle healthier?
- Do not smoke. Smoking is one of the strongest predisposing factors for stroke and heart attack. Passive smoking is harmful as well. Ideally, it’s best to not start smoking in the first place, but if you’re a current smoker, no matter what your age, quitting can be extremely beneficial. For example, if you quit smoking before the age of 50, you cut your risk of dying in the next 15 years in half compared to those who keep smoking.
- Eat healthy. Eat foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium and added sugars. Some of the nutrients sources for vegetarians are
- Proteins – chickpeas, lentils, green peas, soybeans and kidney beans, beans, nuts, nut butters, peas, and soy products (tofu). Milk products and eggs are also good protein sources for lacto-ovo vegetarians. Calcium-fortified nondairy substitutes, such as soy milk and soy yogurt, are also excellent sources of protein. A cup of milk or soy milk provides about 8 grams, and 1 cup of low-fat yogurt contains about 13 grams of dietary protein. Paneer, a fresh cheese common in Indian cuisine, contains about 7 grams of protein per ounce
- Iron – iron-fortified breakfast cereals, spinach, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, lentils, turnip greens, whole wheat chappati, peas, and some dried fruits (dried apricots, raisins)
- Calcium – calcium-fortified milk, calcium-fortified breakfast cereals and orange juice, tofu made with calcium sulfate, and some dark-green leafy vegetables (collard greens, turnip greens, bok choy, mustard greens). Milk products are excellent calcium sources for lacto vegetarians.
- Zinc – beans (white beans, kidney beans, and chickpeas), zinc-fortified breakfast cereals, wheat germ, and pumpkin seeds. Milk products are a zinc source for lacto vegetarians.
- Vitamin B12 – milk products, eggs, and foods that have been fortified with vitamin B12. These include breakfast cereals, milk and nutritional yeast.
- Avoid foods like egg yolks, fatty meats, butter and cream, which are high in fat and cholesterol.
- Eat moderate amounts of food and cut down on saturated fat, trans fat, sugar and salt.
- Bake, broil, roast and boil foods instead of frying.
- Read nutrition labels on packaged meals. Many are very high in sodium.
- Limit alcohol to one drink a day for women; two drinks per day for men.
- Eat more fruit, vegetables, whole-grains, dried peas and beans, pasta, fish, poultry and lean meats.
- Ask your doctor, nurse or a nutritionist or dietician for help.
- Be physically active
- Look for small chances to walk or exercise. Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Brisk walking or running for at least 2-3 hours a week is good for health
- Consult your doctor before starting any exercise if you have a medical condition
- Get regular blood pressure checks. Don’t be afraid of high blood pressure. Work with your doctor to control the blood pressure
- Maintain a healthy weight. A basal metabolic index (BMI) of less than 25 is acceptable
- Take your medicines as directed by the doctor
- Reduce the stress level in your daily life. Meditation helps
- Have regular medical check-ups. Do not ignore warning signs