Health tips to prevent and control stroke risk factors
Modifiable risk factors
- Having a healthy diet: the Mediterranean diet can be a good option to control food intake, since, as well as being a balanced diet that provides the necessary nutrients, it has a low saturated fat content, is rich in antioxidants and reduces the possibility of being obese, having bad cholesterol and diabetes. You should limit the intake of salt and fats, sausages and processed foods and industrial baked goods, and eat fish, legumes, fibre, fruit and vegetables on a regular basis.
- Exercise regularly: doing sport on a regular basis helps to avoid obesity and diabetes and prevents cardiovascular illnesses. Everyone is advised, where possible, to do 30-60 minutes of moderate (walking quickly) or intense (running) aerobic physical exercise five days a week.
- Stop smoking: smokers have a greater risk of suffering a stroke, as nicotine causes cholesterol to build up in your arteries and clogs them.
- Stop drinking or drink less regularly: excessive alcohol consumption is harmful because it can cause hypertension and cardiovascular illnesses. In the cases of wine, you are advised to limit consumption to two glasses (200 ml) a day. Moderate red wine consumption may be associated with decreased vascular risk, although today the validity of this recommendation is under discussion.
- Check blood pressure often: hypertension is the main risk factor for strokes. Controlling and monitoring blood pressure will also prevent cardiovascular illnesses. Blood pressure figures should be kept below 140/90 mmHg (in patients with diabetes or nephropathy, below 130/80 mmHg).
- Vigilance and adequate treatment of diabetes: in order to prevent a stroke, it is important to carry out medical checks on a regular basis, since the blood vessels are affected by this illness and its complications.
- Controlling heart disease, specifically atrial fibrillation: changes in heart rate, as is the case in atrial fibrillation, may cause thromboembolism in the brain (new stroke) or in other organs.
- Taking your pulse: the “Take your pulse” campaign is run by the Department for Health at the Generalitat de Catalunya, la Fundació Ictus (Stroke Foundation) and the Consell de Col·legis de Farmacèutics de Catalunya (Council of Associations of Pharmacists of Catalonia). Pharmacies in the territories that have joined the campaign offer people who are 60 years of age or older the option of taking their pulse for free.
Detecting the warning signs
A stroke is considered a medical emergency that requires immediate diagnosis and treatment. If you at all suspect a stroke, you must act as quickly as possible, as brain cells that die are not recovered and their function will stay damaged.