This is the
biggest contributor to strokes worldwide. The Lancet study estimated
that blood pressure readings of 160/90 mm Hg or higher accounted for up
to 52 percent of the "population-attributable risk" of stroke.
regular exercise is a good move for your cardiovascular health, as it
helps lower blood pressure, regulate your weight, boost "good"
high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and prevent or manage type 2
diabetes. And there's evidence that even moderate levels of physical
activity can curb your risk of stroke.
talk about excess pounds being a risk to your cardiovascular health,
but it's that middle-aged spread around the waist that may be
If you are
still a smoker, you need to work on quitting. In the Lancet study,
there was no evidence that former smokers were at greater risk of
stroke than people who'd never smoked -- suggesting that the excess
risk declines quickly after you quit.
Diet may be
just as important as smoking habits. In particular, the Lancet study
found, features of the traditional Mediterranean diet -- namely, a high
intake of fish and fruit -- appeared protective against stroke.
This is the
most common form of heart-rhythm disturbance, in which the upper
chambers of the heart (atria) do not contract in a rhythmic pattern but
instead quiver chaotically. If you have atrial fibrillation, it is
critical that you take any anti-clotting medication or other drugs that
your doctor has prescribed.
suggest that the relationship between cholesterol and stroke risk is
complex. In the Lancet study, total cholesterol levels were not
associated with strokes, confirming epidemiological evidence, but
higher levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or "good") cholesterol
were linked to a lower risk of ischemic stroke.
drinking of alcohol was linked to a reduced risk of ischemic stroke,
while any amount more than that was connected to an increased risk
stress (related to home or work life) was linked to an increased risk
of stroke. It's not completely clear why. It is
unclear whether stress-management classes can help lower your
symptoms was linked to an increased risk of stroke. It's not completely
clear why; it could be because mental-health woes make it more
difficult to stick to your healthy diet, exercise and medication
regimen. Also unclear is whether depression therapy classes can help
lower your stroke risk.