Prevent Strokes: My 9 Step Plan

man fishing with a child
November 3, 2014 (Updated: August 16, 2018)
Lily Moran

A stroke is like having “a heart attack in the brain,” and, just like a heart attack, strokes can be prevented. Up to eighty percent can be stopped before they start with the appropriate lifestyle and supplement changes.

What Is a Stroke?

When a blood vessel to the brain either ruptures (hemorrhagic stroke) or is blocked (ischemic stroke), brain cells and tissues deprived of oxygen die and cannot be rejuvenated. About 80 percent of all strokes are ischemic; 20 percent are hemorrhagic.

Depending on the location of the brain cells and the extent of damage, a stroke could limit your mobility, cause you speech difficulties, or leave you with memory loss. Roughly two-thirds of people who experience a stroke are left with a disability of some type.

Stroke symptoms hit quickly:

  • Dizziness or balance problems
  • Numbness on one side of the body or face
  • Weakness in a leg, arm, or hand on one side of the body
  • Loss of vision or dimness, especially in only one eye
  • Extremely painful headache

Remember, if these symptoms occur gradually, it’s probably something else. It’s when they hit out of the blue that a stroke is the likeliest suspect.

Fast treatment is your best hope of minimizing disability. Strokes are often treated with tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) to break up blood clots, but this remedy works best in the first hour after symptoms start. For every minute a stroke is not treated, nearly 2 million nerve cells and 14 billion synapses (nerve-cell connections) are destroyed. Speed is essential in stroke treatment.

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Ask These 3 Questions to Identify a Stroke

  1.     Can you smile? (Look for drooping on one side of the face.)
  2.     Can you raise both arms? (Look for weakness on one side of the body.)
  3.     Can you say something simple? (Listen for slurred speech in a sentence as simple as, “The sky is blue.”)

Call 911 immediately if your loved one has any of the above symptoms. Quick action can save a life or help prevent disabling brain damage. Even if the person seems to get better, take them to see a doctor. They may have had a mini-stroke and they need follow-up care.

Now let’s look at the lifestyle changes that can help protect you from a stroke and its devastating consequences….

9 Healthy Habits

Your body’s natural health can emerge when you lead a healthy lifestyle. Habits that are specifically beneficial for stroke include:

  • Stop smoking.
  • Lower high blood pressure.
  • Drink sparingly: no more than one drink per day.
  • Maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
  • Control blood sugar.
  • Manage weight at healthy levels.
  • Lower inflammation.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Eat real, unprocessed food and drink fresh, pure water.

Supplements for Stroke Prevention

Although we tend to think of our hearts and brains as entirely separate organs, they are closely linked by circulation. As I often tell my patients, what’s good for the heart is good for the head, too. So I recommend these heart-healthy supplements to my patients at risk for a stroke.

If you are currently taking blood thinners, daily aspirin, or other medication to treat high blood pressure, please check with your pharmacist or physician before adding supplements to your daily regimen, since some could cause drug interactions.

  • Curcumin, an extract of the spice turmeric, has proven value as an inflammation fighter, supported by dozens of studies. As a bonus, it also prevents blood clots, so it’s at the top of my stroke-prevention supplements list. Curcumin has virtually no side effects. Take 500 mg once daily with or following a meal.
  • Garlic is an outstanding anti-stroke supplement, since it prevents clots from forming and helps lower cholesterol. Take 300 mg twice daily with meals.
  • Ginger is best known for its ability to fight inflammation with virtually no side effects. But it also supports healthy circulation by allowing blood vessels to relax. In addition, ginger can reduce the risk of stroke by lowering cholesterol. Otherwise, take 250 to 500 mg three times daily with food.
  • Ginkgo biloba has a long history of medicinal use, especially for conditions involving the brain. Ginkgo has the ability to strengthen blood vessels as well as increase blood flow to the brain. Take 120 mg daily.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are one of my foremost recommendations for treating the conditions that make strokes possible. Take 500 mg from a purified marine source with each meal.
  • Nattokinase is a naturally occurring enzyme extracted from fermented soybeans known as natto, a popular food in Japan. Nattokinase has been used as a heart and circulatory remedy for decades. Otherwise, take a preparation standardized to 4000 FU (fibrolynitic units.)

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