The American Heart Association (AHA) and American Stroke Association (ASA) confirm that diets high in vegetables, whole grains, fruit and nuts are significant factors in lowering the risk of a first-time stroke.
Recently updated guidelines published in AHA’s journal, Stroke, indicate that eating Mediterranean or DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)-style diets, regularly engaging in physical activity and managing your blood pressure can lower your risk of a first-time stroke.
These diets are similar in their emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, poultry and fish. Both are limited in red meat and foods containing saturated fats, which are mostly found in animal-based products such as meat, butter, cheese and full-fat dairy.
The updated guidelines recommend these tips to lower risk:
- Eat a Mediterranean or DASH-style diet supplemented with nuts.
- Reduce the amount of sodium in your diet.
- Prevent high blood pressure by getting more physical activity, eating a healthy diet and managing your weight.
- Visit your healthcare provider annually for a blood pressure evaluation.
- Monitor high blood pressure at home with a cuff device.
- If your blood pressure medication doesnít work or has bad side effects, talk to your healthcare provider about finding something that works for you.
- Don’t smoke. If youíre a woman who experiences migraines with aura, smoking raises your risk of stroke even more than in the general population.
Act Fast to Recognize a Stroke
Time is of the essence when diagnosing a stroke. The faster a patient is treated, the more likely they are to survive and have a better recovery. If you think someone you know may be having a stroke, act F.A.S.T. to recognize the warning signs.
- Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of their face droop?
- Arm: Have them raise both arms. Does one drift downward?
- Speech: Ask them to repeat a simple sentence. Is their speech slurred, or does it sound strange?
- Time: If the answers to any of these are “yes,” it’s time to call 911. Note the time when symptoms began.