Preventing Stroke

By Hans Diehl, M.D. 

Do Not Eat Salty Snacks; Eat Veggies Instead

Yes, most strokes can be prevented. In fact, strokes, like certain other lifestyle diseases, could become relatively uncommon within a generation if people would begin adopting, early in life, the healthful lifestyle practices already known. Here are six important stroke prevention practices:

  1. Don't smoke. One out of every six CVA deaths is directly related to tobacco usel

  2. Check blood pressure regularly. Hypertension is a silent killer that has no symptoms, and it can sneak up on the unaware.

  3. Reduce salt. Cut it in half! In areas of the world where salt intake is low, hypertension is virtually unknown. In Japan, where salt intake was high, stroke was the leading cause of death.

  4. Normalize weight. Obesity promotes atherosclerosis, hypertension, and most diabetes.

  5. Eat a simple diet. Eat a diet very low in fat and cholesterol, yet high in fiber. Experiments have shown that cutting your fat in half, and reducing your cholesterol as much as possible protects the arterial linings from narrowing and brittleness.

  6. Exercise. Do it actively and regularly. Exercise improves circulation, helps control weight and hypertension from atherosclerosis.


              No Smoking!     Give Up Fast Food!

Is there help for people who have had strokes?

Definitely. A stroke prevention lifestyle will also hasten recovery, as well as help prevent recurrent strokes.

Acute strokes require good nursing care and energetic and consistent rehabilitation. In selected cases, certain surgical procedures such as endarterectomy (cleaning out the arteries), may be of value.

Small doses of aspirin have been shown to aid in stroke prevention in susceptible people, especially people with atrial fibrillation. Remember, however, that aspirin may also promote bleeding tendencies (hemorrhagic strokes) and aggravate stomach ulcers.

But the best news is that arterial blockages are reversible. Thickened, narrowed arteries slowly open again when a very low-fat, unrefined vegetarian diet is consistently followed, along with other health practices. While these studies, so far, center on coronary arteries, similar results are expected in arteries affecting the brain since the underlying problem is the same.

Everyone is born with soft, flexible, elastic artery walls. Many populations around the world retain their healthy arteries and low blood pressures throughout their lifetime. We can, too, if we get serious about pursuing healthful lifestyle practices before the damage is done.

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