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Five Healthy Habits that Decrease the Risk of Stroke in Women

Updated on October 19, 2014

Stroke is the third leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer in women. One in five women will experience a stroke in her lifetime.

Although death rates from stroke have significantly decreased since the 1950s due to improved control of high blood pressure and other known risk factors, methods used to control the risks are considered to be inadequate.

A stroke is described as a sudden onset of persistent decreasing function in neurological functions that results when there is either an obstruction or rupture of the arterial system that is not due to brain trauma, tumor, or other cause.

According to the CDC, the occurrence of stroke is higher among black women than among white women.

Risk factors for stroke in women include but are not limited to the following:

  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Hormone Therapy
  • Atrial Fibrillation
  • Depression
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Genetics

A recent research study is suggesting once more that healthy habits can reduce the risk of stroke in women by half. Specifically there are five healthy habits that might aid in reducing the risk which includes:

  • Healthy Diet
  • Drinking Alcohol in Moderation
  • Never Smoke
  • Physically Active
  • Healthy Body Weight

Eating a Healthy Diet Reduces Risk of Stroke in Women

What is a healthy diet? In this study, researchers considered a healthy diet as one within the top 50 percent of a food score that measured how often the women ate fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy foods and other healthy fare.

A separate large-scale Swedish study revealed that women who ate the most fruits and vegetables had a 17% lower risk of any kind of stroke. Women with heart disease who consumed an increased amount of fruits and vegetables had a 57% lower risk of stroke.

For women who need to lose weight, experts recommend that in addition to exercise, women can decrease their caloric intake by 500 calories per day.

Drinking in moderation can help reduce risk of stroke in women
Drinking in moderation can help reduce risk of stroke in women

Drinking Alcohol in Moderation Reduces Risk of Stroke in Women

What constitutes drinking alcohol in moderation? In the research study, moderate alcohol intake was defined as three to nine drinks a week. Experts go as far to indicate that women should not drink any more than one drink per day, Women who drink two or more drinks per day actually increase their risk for stroke significantly.

Women Should Stop Smoking to Reduce Risk of Stroke

Women should stop smoking to aid in reducing the risk for stroke. Smoking can more double the risk for stroke due to it's various effects on the body such as raising blood pressure, lowering HDL and its impact to blood vessels. Women who live with smokers or are frequently exposed to smokers are also at significant risk for stroke.

According to one study, women have the ability to reduce their risk for stroke by 25% over a one to two year period once they stop smoking.

There are a variety smoking cessation tips that women can follow if they are serious about smoking whether its through support groups, medication or therapy.

Consistent and vigorous exercise may also aid in reducing risk of stroke in women.
Consistent and vigorous exercise may also aid in reducing risk of stroke in women.

Being Physically Active Reduces Risk of Stroke in Women

What activities can a woman do to be classified as physically active? According to this study, women who walked or biked at least 40 minutes a day along with doing more vigorous exercise at least an hour once a week were classified as physically active.

Even if a woman just walks one hour in total per week, she is less likely to have a stroke than one who does not walk at all. Exercise is just one tool women can use to help control their weight.

A BMI less than 25 is considered healthy and reduces the risk of stroke in women.
A BMI less than 25 is considered healthy and reduces the risk of stroke in women.

Healthy Weight Reduces Risk of Stroke in Women

Healthy weight was defined as having a body mass index (BMI) below 25. Women who maintain an unhealthy BMI (i.e. greater than 30) are 50% more likely to have a stroke than those with a body weight in the healthy range.

Women must also be careful of excessive weight gain as this can also increase their risk for stroke.

Other Tips to Reduce the Risk of Stroke in Women

Other ways actions women can take to reduce their risk of stroke may include getting annual cholesterol checks and if necessary, taking actions to decrease unhealthy cholesterol levels whether through diet and exercise or medication management.

Women should also get their blood pressure checked annually and if medically necessary, ensure that she follows any prescribed medication regimens.

© 2014 Mahogany Speaks

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