A Mediterranean diet with regular exercise will keep your blood pressure under control and lower your risk of a stroke. New guidelines published by the American Heart Association act as a preventative measure and recommend the following:
Eat a Mediterranean or DASH-style diet, supplemented with nuts.
Don’t smoke. Smoking and taking oral birth control pills can significantly increase your stroke risk. If you’re a woman who experiences migraines with aura, smoking raises your risk of stroke even more than in the general population.
Mediterranean-style or DASH-style diets are similar in their emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, poultry and fish. Both are limited in red meat and foods containing saturated fats, which are mostly found in animal-based products such as meat, butter, cheese and full-fat dairy.
Mediterranean-style diets are generally low in dairy products and DASH-style diets emphasize low-fat dairy products.
Avoiding secondhand smoke also lowers stroke and heart attack risks, according to the guidelines.
Monitor high blood pressure at home with a cuff device.
Reduce the amount of sodium in your diet; sodium is found mostly in salt.
“We have a huge opportunity to improve how we prevent new strokes, because risk factors that can be changed or controlled — especially high blood pressure — account for 90 percent of strokes,” said James Meschia, M.D., lead author of the study and professor and chairman of neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida.
“Talking about stroke prevention is worthwhile,” Meschia said. “In many instances, stroke isn’t fatal, but it leads to years of physical, emotional and mental impairment that could be avoided.”