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4 Ways to Help Prevent Stroke in Seniors

May 16, 2024 | Featured, Health & Wellness | 0 comments

Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a stroke, and about 75% of strokes occur in people 65 or older. While those statistics may seem daunting, 80% of strokes are preventable. By making healthy choices and monitoring and controlling your existing health conditions, you could prevent a stroke. Read on to uncover four ways to help prevent stroke in seniors.

Lower Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is often referred to as a silent killer since it does not exhibit any symptoms and is the primary cause of strokes. Monitoring your blood pressure levels and taking necessary measures if they are found to be elevated can significantly improve your heart health, and, thus, help prevent stroke.

The recommended blood pressure for people 65 and older is less than 130/80. If you struggle with high blood pressure:

  • Reduce your salt intake.
  • Avoid high-cholesterol foods like burgers, cheese, and ice cream.
  • Maintain a healthy diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains, and low-fat dairy.
  • Exercise (30 minutes per day).
  • Quit smoking if you smoke.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

According to the World Stroke Organization, being overweight increases your risk of stroke by 22%. If you’re obese, your risk increases by 64%. Excess weight can cause a myriad of health issues for seniors, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and more.

After age 60, your metabolism slows down, and your body requires fewer calories to maintain its natural processes. However, many seniors don’t adjust their diets for this change, resulting in weight gain.

To maintain a healthy weight as a senior:

  • Use MyPlate to determine your daily calorie needs based on age, sex, height, weight, and activity level.
  • Limit portion sizes. A ‘guilty pleasure’ treat won’t make or break your diet, as long as it’s done in moderation.
  • Only eat when you’re hungry – don’t just eat because it’s lunchtime and you’re used to a schedule.
  • Stay hydrated with water and avoid drinks with added sugar, like soda or fruit juice.
  • Monitor your weight regularly to ensure you stay within a healthy range.
  • Be as physically active as possible, based on your ability.
  • Opt for small, healthy snacks and meals throughout the day rather than one or two large meals.

Talk to your doctor about what diet and exercise routine is right for you.

Don’t Smoke (or Quit if You Do!)

Smoking is known to damage blood vessels, elevate blood pressure, and reduce the oxygen level in the blood. Smoking also makes blood stickier, which enhances the likelihood of blood clots forming in the arteries leading to the heart and brain.

Many seniors who smoke find it challenging to quit, as most have been smoking for upwards of 30 years. You may think, “I’ve gone this long smoking – what’s the point of quitting now?”

No matter your age or the duration of your smoking habit, quitting smoking can significantly improve your health. By quitting, you can potentially add years to your life, prevent stroke and other health issues, breathe more comfortably, have more energy, and save money.

To quit smoking:

  • Talk to your primary care provider. There’s likely a tobacco cessation program they can refer you to.
  • Use nicotine replacement products like gum or patches.
  • Switch up your routine. It may be normal for you to smoke after each meal. Instead, swap this habit with a healthy one, like going on a walk.
  • When a craving hits, chew a piece of gum.
  • Throw away all your cigarettes/cigars, ashtrays, and lighters/matches.
  • Practice stress management to reduce stress-induced cravings.

Limit Alcohol

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, healthy older adults who don’t take medications should limit their alcohol consumption to two (for men) or one (for women) drink per day. If you consume more than that, your stroke risk increases.

Follow these tips:

  • If you must drink, consider red wine as your first choice. Some studies suggest that its antioxidants can help protect heart health.
  • Mind your portions. A standard-sized drink is a 5-ounce glass of wine, 12-ounce beer, or 1.5-ounce glass of hard liquor.
  • Consider trying mocktails as an alternative to alcoholic beverages. You can still enjoy the social aspect of having a drink without consuming alcohol.

What is a Stroke?

Learn the risk factors, signs, treatment, and more.


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