Best Life: Ways to reduce the risk of stroke

Updated: Sep. 14, 2020 at 6:44 AM CDT
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ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Each year, more than 795,000 people in the U.S. have a stroke, and about 140,000 die. Exercise and a healthy diet can help prevent a stroke, but there are some other ways your doctor might not have told you.

Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a stroke. Every four minutes, someone dies. How can you lower your chances of being one of them? First, find out if you’re at risk.

“The risk factors are usually the same -- smoking, aging, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol,” said Mahmoud Malas, MD, Chief of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery at UCSD.

A healthy diet, quitting smoking and regular exercise can improve your odds. But there are other, little-known ways to defend yourself. One is flossing. Some studies have shown improved gum health may slow the progression of atherosclerosis or narrowing of the arteries.

“The problem with this blockage is that little pieces of plaque break off and goes to the brain and cause an embolic stroke,” continued Dr. Malas.

Also, a recent analysis found consuming one to three cups of coffee a day protected patients against stroke. For men, other research has shown sex may prevent the buildup of the chemical homocysteine in men, which at high levels, can increase the risk of blood clots and heart attacks. Lastly, dark chocolate may be a stroke buster. One study found those who ate a weekly serving were 22% less likely to suffer a stroke than those who ate no chocolate.

Meditation may also lower your chances of stroke. In a small study, Blacks with heart disease who practiced transcendental meditation twice daily were 48% less likely to have a stroke, heart attack or die than those who took a health education class.

Contributors to this news report include: Julie Marks, Producer; and Roque Correa, Editor. Copyright 2020 WMC. All rights reserved.