6 Ways to Cut Your Stroke Risk

What really helps

More than half of all strokes could be avoided by taking the right preventive steps. Updated guidelines reinforce why it’s so important to do these six things.

1. Keep moving

At least three to four times a week exercise for 40 minutes (each session) to reduce blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels. Moderate to vigorous aerobic activities like walking, biking, or swimming are good choices.

2. If you smoke, quit

The seven FDA-approved medications really do help smokers quit, according to the American Lung Association. Many folks don't use them correctly, so be sure to follow directions.

3. Lose excess weight

Being overweight or obese increases blood pressure, putting you at elevated stroke risk. Start with a goal of losing 5 pounds

4. Get diabetes under control

If you have diabetes, your chances of having a stroke are 1.5 times higher than in people who don't have the condition.

5. Curb heavy drinking

If you’re a man, have no more than two alcoholic drinks a day, and if you’re a woman, limit yourself to one drink a day.

6. Treat sleep disorders

Because sleep apnea is associated with stroke risk, the guidelines suggest that doctors screen patients for the disorder. However, the guidelines stop short of recommending treatment for sleep apnea since adequate studies on treatment effectiveness to prevent stroke are lacking.

Meet Our Writer

HealthAfter50 was published by the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health, providing up-to-date, evidence-based research and expert advice on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of a wide range of health conditions affecting adults in middle age and beyond. It was previously part of Remedy Health Media's network of digital and print publications, which also include HealthCentral; HIV/AIDS resources The Body and The Body Pro; the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter; and the Berkeley Wellness website. All content from HA50 merged into Healthcentral.com in 2018.