Do You Want to Prevent a Stroke? Behave This Way


Working on my book over 10 years ago, I already knew from experience that behaviors – not mysterious diseases – are the cause most of today’s illnesses. After years as a critical care nurse, I saw how medical treatments arrive too late in the game – way too late – to spare people the pain and suffering that comes from having a chronic disease or suffering a catastrophic health event like a stroke. Nobody was talking much back then about health risks or the behaviors that create them, but they are now.

Study after study keeps proving that certain lifestyle behaviors promote health and prevent disease. Two recent studies – one published in the British Journal of Medicine and one in the journal Circulation- both showed how specific lifestyle behaviors dramatically reduce stroke risk. Here are those behaviors.

Not Smoking

Do I dare say – duh? Are you still smoking? Are you thinking about quitting? If there is anyway I can encourage you to do so – I will. Here is one post I’ve already written to try to help you. And here’s another about how smoking affects the brain even beyond the risks for stroke, heart attack, lung cancer, emphysema. Do I need to go on?

Moderate Alcohol Consumption

In the British study this was defined as no more than 14 units a week. One unit was defined as “one glass of wine, one small glass of sherry, one single shot of spirits, or one half pint (8 oz.) of beer.

The American researchers defined moderate alcohol consumption as no more than a glass of alcohol daily for women and up to two for men (one drink is 4 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or one-and-a-half ounces of hard liquor).

Being Physically Active

The British defined inactive people as those having sedentary jobs and engaging in no recreational physical activity. They defined the others “not inactive” if they did any activity above that of the inactive people.

The Americans defined active as getting at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity on most days.

Adhering to a Healthy Diet

The British measured this by the number of serving of fruits and vegetables subjects ate and they also did blood tests to measure vitamin C levels.

The Americans called a healthy diet one with a higher intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, soy, nuts, more lean meat, and taking a multivitamin for at least five years.

Maintaining a Normal Body Weight

The British did not specifically score their subjects on weight.

The Americans named a BMI (body mass index) of greater than 25 in middle age as a risk factor for stroke.

The Studies’ Results

Both studies found that each behavior individually had an impact in lowering stroke risk and that the more healthy behaviors an individual had the more their risk was lowered.

The British researchers found that those who did not engage in any of the four healthy behaviors (they didn’t include weight) had 2.3 times the risk for stroke. They concluded “the combined impact of these [four] controllable lifestyle behaviors result in a significant reduction in the risk for stroke.”

One of the American researchers, Stephanie Chiuve from the Harvard School of Public Health, Department of Nutrition summarized their findings this way. “A healthy lifestyle is associated with an 80 percent lower risk for ischemic stroke compared to people who have none of these lifestyle factors. More than half of ischemic strokes might have been prevented if everyone adhered to these healthy lifestyle factors.”

So there you have it. What are you doing about it?

This information is offered for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, prescribe or treat. For that please seek direct care from a health professional.

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