Stroke Prevention: 5 Ways to Prevent a Brain Attack

U.S. News & World Report

You can prevent the third-leading cause of death and the top cause of adult disability in the U.S.

Posted May 12, 2009

Lifestyle counts, and in stroke prevention, the sum of one’s efforts appears to be greater than singular prevention elements. A study in an August issue of the journal Circulation suggests that leading a low-risk lifestyle—including getting exercise, eating a healthful diet, and not smoking—reduces the risk of ischemic stroke, the most common from of stroke, in the general population by approximately 80 percent. It’s essential to know what puts you at higher risk for stroke and to be able to immediately recognize the symptoms if you have a stroke, but much can be done to prevent such an event. Consider these elements of reducing your likelihood of having a stroke:

Quit smoking. Compared with nonsmokers, smokers on average have double the risk of ischemic stroke. And a study in an August issue of the journal Stroke found a dose-response in female subjects, meaning that the more cigarettes a woman smoked per day, the higher her odds of suffering a stroke. Two packs per day boosted risk of stroke to nine times that of nonsmokers. The same study found that when subjects quit smoking, their risk of stroke returned to normal within two years.

Get off the hormones, ladies. Hormone replacement therapy with estrogen, used to ease symptoms of menopause, have been found to significantly boost a woman’s risk of stroke. And Tibolone, a synthetic HRT that mimics estrogen and the hormone progesterone, was found last year to increase the risk of stroke in women older than 60. Also, smokers who take birth control pills are at far greater risk of stroke, blood clots, and heart attack than women on the pill who don’t smoke.

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.