Prevention is the best option

Preventing and controlling stroke risk factors

Factors de risc de l’ictus a Vall d'Hebron

Proper control of risk factors, coupled with recommendations for lifestyle changes, can prevent up to 90% of stroke cases. These elements, together with the pharmacological treatments prescribed by the specialist, can also reduce the risk of recurrence and first episodes of other cardiovascular diseases with common risk factors.

These measures also benefit other aspects of health if followed in your daily life.


Modifiable risk factors

  • Proper monitoring of tension lowers the chances of suffering a stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. Hypertension is, in fact, the main risk factor for stroke after age (it is estimated to be the cause in between 25 and 50% of cases). 
  • Follow a healthy diet, limiting salt and fats, processed meats, and industrial pastries . The Mediterranean diet is a good choice because, as well as being balanced and providing the necessary nutrients, it has a low content of saturated fatty acids, is rich in antioxidants and reduces the possibility of obesity, bad cholesterol (a risk factor for stroke) and diabetes. It is also advisable to eat fish, legumes, fibre, fruit and vegetables on a regular basis.
  • Doingsport on a regular basis helps avoid obesity and diabetes and prevents cardiovascular disease. Everyone is advised, where possible, to do 30-60 minutes of moderate (walking quickly) or intense (running) aerobic physical exercise five days a week.
  • Proper monitoring and treatment of diseases such as diabetes may decrease the risk of stroke and other vascular diseases. While chronic microvascular complications involved in diabetes (retinopathy, nephropathy, and neuropathy) are associated with poor long-term glycaemic control, macrovascular complications (ischemic heart disease and stroke) are determined mainly by other cardiovascular risk factors. We also need to monitor weight and obesity, which promotes high blood pressure, dyslipidaemia and diabetes.
  • Nicotine causes cholesterol plaques in the arteries and can cause them to clog, so it is recommended to give up smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption is also harmful: it causes hypertension and cardiovascular disease. This is why you are also advised to limit alcoholic beverages.
  • Controlling heart disease, specifically atrial fibrillation: changes in heart rate, as is the case in atrial fibrillation, may cause thromboembolism in the brain (a type of stroke) or in other organs.
  • Take your pulse is a campaign run by the Department for Health of 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). If you feel strong, rapid palpitations without having done any previous physical activity, you are recommended to go to the doctor.




Estela Sanjuan
Research nurse. Coordinator of research and clinical trials at the Stroke Research Group at the Vall d'Hebron Research Institute.

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