Over a quarter of New Hampshire residents have high blood pressure, meaning they are at risk for having a stroke. Stroke is often thought of as something that happens to older people, but more people under 50 are having strokes, due to increased risky behaviors, such as smoking and untreated high blood pressure.
October 29 is World Stroke Day and the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association, is providing five tips to help New Hampshire residents feel healthier and avoid one of the most common causes of disability and death.
Strokes don’t discriminate. They can happen to anyone, at any age – and about one in four people worldwide will have one in their lifetime.
“80 percent of first strokes may be prevented,” said Dr. Jim Andriotakis, Medical Director of the Stroke Program at Northeast Rehabilitation Hospital Network’s four inpatient rehabilitation hospitals located in Manchester, Salem, Nashua and Portsmouth. “Healthy habits can protect and improve brain function and lower your chances of having a stroke. While many people don’t think they are at risk of a stroke, a healthy lifestyle can benefit everyone.”
Here are five tips to reduce your risk of stroke and maintain mental sharpness as you age:
- Keep blood pressure in mind and under control. Get your blood pressure into a healthy range (under 130/80). High blood pressure is the no. 1 controllable risk factor for stroke. Work with your doctor to manage it.
- Eat colorful fruits and veggies. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables has been shown to lower blood pressure over time, which can help reduce your stroke risk. Some fruits and vegetables are especially rich in vitamins and minerals that improve brain function and heart health – try mangoes, avocados and blueberries.
- Rest up. Getting 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night can improve brain function both today and long-term. Make it happen with a soothing bedtime routine and avoid screen time before bed. Sleep-related breathing issues may increase stroke risk, so seek treatment right away if you suspect sleep apnea or a similar problem.
- Meditate. Emerging science shows that practicing mindfulness and being aware of your breathing may significantly reduce blood pressure and may improve blood flow to the brain. A quick way to be mindful anytime is to pause, notice your breath and take in little details in your surroundings.
- Get active. Getting active activates brain cells, encouraging them to grow and connect more efficiently. For clear health benefits, adults should get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity (or a combination of those activities). In addition, two days per week of moderate- to- high intensity muscle strengthening activity is recommended.
Cycling has been shown to strengthen heart muscles, lower resting heart rates and reduce body fat levels. Join the American Heart Association at CycleNation on November 14 at Executive Health and Sports Center in Manchester, NH. CycleNation is an upbeat, relay-style indoor cycling event that raises awareness and funds for heart disease and stroke. For more information, please visit cyclenation.org/NHManchester.