May 14, 2009

Lifestyle changes can help prevent stroke

A few lifestyle changes can greatly reduce anyone's chances of having a stroke, a U.S. physician says.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of adult disabilities, but more than half of all strokes can be prevented, Dr. Matthew Fink, chief of the division of stroke and critical care neurology at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City, says in a statement.

For instance, avoiding stroke is another good reason to quit smoking. Fink says a smoker is at twice the risk of having a stroke because smoking damages blood vessels, raises blood pressure and speeds up the clogging of arteries.

Among the other lifestyle changes Fink says can help reduce stroke risk include:

-- Flavoring your food with a variety of spices to cut back on the amount of salt may help bring blood pressure to a healthy level of 120/80 or below.

-- Eating a heart-healthy diet that balances good cholesterol and bad cholesterol helps keep cholesterol level at or below 200mg/dl.

-- Exercising can help lose extra pounds that place added strain on the circulation system.