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How to Lower Stroke and Stroke-Provoking Blood Clots

Your body's ability to stop a stroke before it starts could be greatly enhanced if you simply rode an exercise bicycle a few times each week.

When older, inactive women in a study hopped on their bikes for just 35 minutes three times a week, that's exactly what happened. Their bodies' ability to bust up stroke-provoking blood clots got significantly better after just 21 days on the exercise bicycle program.

Stroke stopper
The risk of stroke creeps up as we get older because our body's ability to break up blood clots diminishes with age—especially in postmenopausal women, who are particularly at risk of ischemic strokes. This kind of stroke happens when blood clots block blood flow to a part of the brain. About 90 percent of all strokes are ischemic strokes. Makes it all the more comforting to know that sticking with a few simple habits as we age—like engaging regularly in the exercise bicycle—can help boost our clot-busting powers. (Save your brain. Read up on some of the sneaky, subtle signs of a stroke.)

Back into balance
For best results, you'll want to make sure you work up a small sweat when you ride, walk or hike. The women in the study experienced improvements in blood clots when they worked out at about 70 percent of their maximum heart rate for each 25-minute session. So be sure to kick it up a notch or two above a leisurely pace—assuming that your health and your doctor allow it. (You can calculate it quickly with this tool.)

Aside from regular aerobic exercise like the exercise bicycle, controlling your sodium intake is another good way to slash stroke risk. Too much salt in the diet may lead to high blood pressure, a risk factor for stroke. And limit alcohol, too.

Medically reviewed in December 2019.

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