Stroke can be prevented. You can’t change risk factors such as your age, ethnicity or family history. But you can reduce your risk by up to 40% by making lifestyle changes.
Control blood pressure
High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke and the most important risk factor to control. Blood pressure for adults should be no more than 120 over 80. Here’s what you can do:
- Eat lots of fruit and vegetables.
- Avoid salt, cholesterol, and saturated and trans fats.
- Manage stress.
- Exercise regularly.
- Take blood pressure medication as prescribed.
- Check your blood pressure regularly.
- Manage your weight.
- Changes You Can Make to Manage High Blood Pressure, American Heart Association
- “Your Guide to Lowering Blood Pressure,” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Smoking increases your risk of stroke and heart disease, no matter your age, weight or blood pressure.
Smoking thickens your blood, contributes to plaque buildup in your arteries, and makes it easier for clots to form.
Your risk drops as soon as you quit, though. In time, it becomes about the same as if you never smoked. Tips:
- Set a date to quit.
- Take stop-smoking medication your doctor recommends.
- Get help from friends, family and your doctor or other health care provider.
- OHSU smoking cessation program
- OHSU smoking cessation handout
- Oregon Tobacco Quit Line, Oregon Health Authority
- Fact Sheet About Health Benefits of Smoking Cessation, World Health Organization
Cholesterol, a fatlike substance carried in your blood, is used to make hormones and other cells. It comes in two forms:
LDL cholesterol: This type (“bad cholesterol”) increases your risk of stroke by building up in arteries. This buildup can reduce or block blood flow to your brain.
HDL cholesterol: This type (“good cholesterol”) carries harmful LDL cholesterol away from your arteries and to your liver, which removes it.
Tips to manage your cholesterol:
- Cut down on foods that are high in saturated fats and cholesterol. These include fatty meats, dairy products, shellfish, and fats such as butter, margarine and lard.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and fatty fish such as tuna and salmon.
- Get your cholesterol checked regularly.
- What Your Cholesterol Numbers Mean, American Heart Association
- Prevention and Treatment of High Cholesterol (Hyperlipidemia), American Heart Association
- Preventing and Managing High Cholesterol, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
A healthy diet can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, and help you lose weight.
- Eat more fruit, vegetables, cereals, dried peas and beans, pasta, fish, poultry and lean meats.
- Cut down on salt, saturated fat, trans fats and sugar.
- Know your dietary needs, especially if you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes.
Exercise can help lower blood pressure, manage weight and reduce stress.
- Start slowly. Ask your doctor what moderate activity means for you.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park a block or two from your destination.
- Build up to 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at a time, five days a week or more.
- Move Your Way, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- “Exercise & Physical Activity: Your Everyday Guide From the National Institute on Aging”
- Exercise and Physical Fitness, U.S. National Library of Medicine
- Alcohol: Stop or reduce your drinking. Women should have no more than one drink a day, men no more than two.
- Control diabetes: Learn about steps you can take.
- Medication: Talk with your doctor about whether medication such as aspirin or an anticoagulant is appropriate.
- Atrial fibrillation: Learn if you have this heart condition, which increases risk of stroke.
- Artery disease: Seek treatment for disorders such as atherosclerosis or carotid artery disease.
- Preventing Stroke: What You Can Do, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Brain Basics: Preventing Stroke, National Institute on Neurological Disorders and Stroke
- Preventing a Stroke, National Stroke Association
- Prevention, American Stroke Association
- Prevention Materials, American Stroke Association
Parking is free for patients and their visitors.
OHSU Stroke Program clinic
Hatfield Research Center, 13th floor
3250 S.W. Sam Jackson Park Road
Map and directions