Advertisement

5 Habits That Stop Strokes

Try these simple lifestyle changes to help prevent strokes.

Medically reviewed in December 2021

Updated on January 4, 2022

Did you know that, of the most common type of stroke, 80 percent are preventable? The good news is that there are a number of easy lifestyle changes you can make to help reduce your risk.

While you may already incorporate some of these into your daily routine, your risk of stroke drops dramatically if you do all five. 

  • Walk briskly every day 
  • Maintain a healthy weight 
  • Avoid cigarette smoke 
  • Enjoy alcohol only in moderation 
  • Eat as nutritiously as you can 

The golden health rules to reduce stroke 
In a large 2008 study of men and women in their 50s published in Circulation, those who most closely stuck to these five basic health habits were 80 percent less likely to have an ischemic stroke, the kind that occurs when a clot blocks blood flow to the brain. This group of people got in about 30 minutes a day of moderate or vigorous exercise, such as brisk walking, dancing, or cycling. Each had a body mass index (BMI) below 25. Their diet mainstays were fruit, veggies, whole grains, and lean protein. And the women had no more than one alcoholic drink per day, while the men had no more than two. 

The more healthful lifestyle factors you can rack up, the lower your risk of stroke. In fact, merely being physically active can cut your stroke risk by up to 30 percent. For every extra serving of fruits or vegetables you have per day, your risk drops by 6 percent.

Why it works 
These five lifestyle changes not only help prevent stroke itself, but also the conditions that lead to stroke, including high blood pressure and diabetes. Cigarette smoke, heavy alcohol consumption, and obesity are also known stroke risk factors.

Here’s how to overcome some common obstacles and turn these suggestions into real-life habits. 

Article sources open article sources

American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults and Kids. Last reviewed Apr 18, 2018.
Chiuve SE, Rexrode KM, Spiegelman D, Logroscino G, Manson JE, Rimm EB. Primary prevention of stroke by healthy lifestyle. Circulation. 2008;118(9):947-954.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Preventing Stroke Deaths: Progress Stalled. Page last reviewed: September 6, 2017.
Meschia JF, Bushnell C, Boden-Albala B, et al. Guidelines for the primary prevention of stroke: a statement for healthcare professionals from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Stroke. 2014;45(12):3754-3832.

More On

Less Salt, Fewer Strokes

article

Less Salt, Fewer Strokes
Wondering if you use too much salt and how much you should cut back? You may only need to cut your daily salt intake by a mere half-teaspoon to see a ...
Is It a Headache or a Stroke?

article

Is It a Headache or a Stroke?
When you get a headache, you might take aspirin and try to shrug it off. But sometimes a headache is a sign of something more serious—like a stroke, a...
Could You Be at a Higher Risk for Stroke and Not Know It?

article

Could You Be at a Higher Risk for Stroke and Not Know It?
Often called “brain attacks,” strokes occur when disease or trauma suddenly disrupt blood flow to the brain, or far more rarely, cause blood vessels i...
Strokes in Young People: Are the Numbers Really on the Rise?

article

Strokes in Young People: Are the Numbers Really on the Rise?
Age is a major risk factor for having a stroke, and the risk of stroke doubles each decade after age 55. That doesn’t mean that adults in their 20s, 3...
The Science Behind Broken Heart Syndrome

article

The Science Behind Broken Heart Syndrome
When 62-year-old Joanie Simpson woke up with a serious backache and chest pain following the death of her beloved Yorkshire terrier, she assumed she w...