Stroke Prevention for the Not-so-Old

At the 2011 annual stroke meeting, the Centers for Disease Control reported that strokes are becoming more frequent in younger populations.

That means you. But, doctors also stress that simple lifestyle modifications can significantly reduce the potential for stroke later in life. Here’s what you should do now.

Sparing Calories at the Risk of Stroke?
For those of us who have always thought we were cheating the fat genes by drinking diet soda, the big surprise is on us! While we may be drinking diet sodas in order to avoid thighliness, something else seems to be going on that increases our chance of having a future stroke. And what good are thinner legs if you have trouble walking on them? While there are always other ways to lose weight, there is little that can un-do a stroke.

Association Between Stroke and Diet Soda Unknown

Turns out that in a new study, those who had diet soda every day experienced a 61% higher risk of stroke than those who reported drinking no soda. No causal relationship has been proven yet between diet drinks and stroke; in fact, this was the first study associating diet drinks to any vascular event. Researchers are now looking for a high blood pressure connection as the culprit, since it has been long known that there is a link between high blood pressure and stroke.

Younger Stroke Population
If learning that you can’t cheat the calorie police by drinking diet soda was alarming, consider something even scarier: the rate of stroke is increasing among younger people.  The CDC reported rising rates in people up to 44 years of age while the rates are decreasing in those over 44. So what else can we be doing to prevent a stroke?

Walk Long or Fast
In another study, women who walked 2 or more hours a week, were 30% less likely to experience a stroke than women who do not walk; and those who walked at a brisk pace were 37% less likely.  (For a little more horsepower you gained an additional 7%.)

Potassium Protection
In a pooled analysis of 11 studies, people with a higher intake of potassium demonstrated a 21 % lower risk for stroke.  Ideally, 5 or 6 servings of fruits and veggies a day would do the trick. But if you select those very high in potassium—such as tomatoes, bananas, and beans—even 3 servings a day provides increased protection.

Caffeine Consumption Helps

Not only does that daily cup of Joe provide all kinds of wonderfulness, it may actually reduce your risk of having a stroke! After comparing coffee habits of 35,000 Swedish women, those who drank coffee daily had 22-25% fewer strokes than those who did not.  No direct “cause and effect” link has been determined yet.

Key Points to Reduce Risk of Stroke

  • Limit or omit carbonated beverages, especially diet ones
  • Moderate to brisk walking 2 hours a week (This is a gimmee for those with toddlers)
  • One glass of an alcoholic beverage daily (no, you can’t save up 4 drinks for the weekend and get the same benefit)
  • One small square of 70% cocoa chocolate daily (Woo-Hoo!)
  • Maintain a normal blood pressure
  • Drink a cup of coffee daily
  • Eat your fruits and veggies daily

Want to be the picture of health? Check out The 5 Tests to Get Now.

About the author: Diana Tucker writes for 3 international investor newsletters that focus on emerging medical & surgical technologies.  This is her first foray into decoding her information into (hopefully) useable tidbits for her girlfriends. Having once sailed through corporate management, she firmly believes that there should be a black box warning that comes with managing a family.

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