Here's what you can do to lower your risk of stroke

11 Nov 2023 12:00pm
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The reality is that one in four of us will have a stroke in our lifetime, but almost all strokes can be prevented up to 80 per cent.

If you want to avoid a stroke the first step is to understand the individual risk factors.

Consultant neurologist from Sri Kota Specialist Medical Centre Dr Wong Sing Keat highlighted that, in Malaysia, the most common risk factors are hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidaemia (high cholesterol), smoking and living a sedentary lifestyle. Prevention is always better than cure, especially when it comes to stroke.

Sri Kota Specialist Medical Centre Dr Wong Sing Keat
Sri Kota Specialist Medical Centre Dr Wong Sing Keat

Here are some tips:

Lead a Healthy Lifestyle

To lead a healthy lifestyle is not as difficult as you think. Start with three simple steps.Exercising at least three times per week for a minimum of 30 minutes each session, eating a regular balanced diet, and having regular annual body checkups. Regular exercise is important. Just 30 minutes of exercise, five times a week, can reduce the risk of stroke by 25 per cent.

Eat Well

The best diet for stroke prevention on the other hand is a diet that is mostly plant-based with small amounts of meat and fish. This diet has been described as a ’Mediterranean Diet’ and there is a large body of evidence to support its benefits for cardiovascular health and stroke prevention. The principles of a good diet are as below:

Fruits and vegetables – Five or more servings per day.

Oily fish, such as sardines, salmon, or mackerel – at least two portions per week.

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Healthy oils – olive oil accounts for most calorific intake in the Mediterranean diet, rapeseed/canola, sesame oil could be used.

Tree nuts and peanuts – at least three servings per week.

Legumes, such as peas, beans, and lentils – at least three servings a week.

Avoid or Reduce Alcohol Consumption - Avoiding alcohol or sticking to recommended consumption of no more than 2 units of alcohol a day.

Quit smoking - Smoking tobacco also increases your risk of having a stroke. Did you know that someone who smokes 20 cigarettes a day is 6 times more likely to have a stroke compared to a non-smoker?

Even if you are a long-term smoker, quitting will reduce your risk of stroke almost immediately. Within 8 hours of quitting, your blood oxygen levels will improve and carbon monoxide and nicotine levels in your body will go down by more than half.

After two to 12 weeks, your circulatory system will start to improve, after two years your risk will reduce significantly and after five years your risk is the same as non-smokers.