How can it be prevented?
The best way to prevent a stroke is to identify the risk factors and modify them as best you can. All of the modifiable risk factors go hand in hand- by increasing your level of activity you will naturally lose weight and this in turn will reduce your blood pressure and cholesterol and also reduce your chances of developing diabetes. Also, having a healthier lifestyle in terms of both exercise and diet will lead to you feeling and sleeping better and having more energy. This will have a positive knock-on effect on stress levels and allow you to cope better when life becomes stressful- as for most of us it does at one time or another.
What can you do?
- Identify what your risk factors are:
- Do you smoke?
- Are you over-weight?
- Do you get enough physical activity?
- Do you have diabetes or pre-diabetes?
- Are you under stress? If yes, do you have any means of managing this?
- Do you sleep well?
- Do you get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked regularly?
- Then within each of these risk factors identify what changes you can make.
If diet is the main issue for you then start by keeping a food diary for a week or so and then compare your food diary to the food pyramid (can be found on the Irish Heart Foundation website). The changes you make should be small and gradual- for example you could print out some of the foods from the food pyramid that you should be eating and bring them to the supermarket and try to add a few of these in to your normal weekly shop. Even better, replace some of your less healthy choices with foods from the list. Your weight loss goal should be sensible and not dramatic. It is much easier to keep weight off that has been lost gradually. You should not look on this as a diet but as a lifestyle change. You need to still enjoy food if this lifestyle change is to be successful.
Similarly, if physical activity is something that just doesn’t find its way in to your weekly schedule start by simply becoming more active within your own lifestyle- walk to the shop, take stairs instead of lifts etc. Then when you become a more active person start to add in a brisk walk a few times per week and so on and so forth. You are aiming to get to 30-60 minutes of moderate level exercise daily- this may seem like a daunting prospect but if you start and increase it gradually you should have no problems getting to this amount.
You will find that if you give these things a chance you will start to feel better as the weeks go on.