High Blood Pressure: A Major Risk Factor for Stroke

By Christian Goodman

October 29 is World Stroke Day. Promoted by the World Stroke Organization, the topic of World Stroke Day this year is "What can I do?"

The World Stroke Organization states, you can learn to identify risk elements and symptoms of stroke - and do something about them.

High blood pressure (hypertension) is a major risk factor for stroke as well as heart disease. Poor nutrition, lack of exercise, obesity, and smoking all elevate the risk of stroke and hypertension.

A stroke is rather like a heart attack, but is located in the brain. Stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel and interrupts blood flow to the brain. A lack of blood flow causes brain damage; brain cells begin to die. Stroke may create weakness in limbs, paralyzed limbs, or loss of ability to speak.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in America and the leading cause of adult disability. Up to 80 percent of strokes are preventable with healthy lifestyle choices.

"Stroke is not an inevitable consequence of ageing," points out Professor Lars Ryden of the Karolinska Institute in Stockhom. "So by identifying and modifying risk factors, there are openings to reduce the incidence and death rate of this catastrophic condition."

Around the world, stroke is the second leading cause of death (second only to heart disease), accounting for nearly 6 million deaths per year. The number of stroke victims continues to climb worldwide.

High blood pressure is the most important risk factor for stroke. The Framingham Heart Study found that hypertension doubles the risk of stroke. Smoking also doubles the risk of stroke.

To lower the risk of stroke, you can stop smoking (if you smoke), lose weight, lower blood pressure, eat healthier foods, and exercise regularly. Excessive alcohol consumption and excessive salt intake also raise the risk for high blood pressure as well as stroke. Regular exercise is the key to losing weight, lowering blood pressure, and lowering your risk of stroke.

Walking is an exceptional exercise, and you have no excuses to avoid walking. If the weather is bad outside, you can walk indoors in a mall, for instance. One Japanese study discovered that regular vigorous walking reduced the risk of stroke by upwards of 20 percent. In a similar Finnish study, researchers found that leisure-time physical activity is a preventative of stroke. Lying on the couch and watching television might seem like the most relaxing activity, but when that's your only leisure-time activity, then it's actually creating more stress and anxiety within your body. You must maintain physical activity levels to release that stress and keep your body healthy.

Summarizing, to lower your risk of stroke, follow these simple suggestions: Stop smoking. Walk or exercise daily. Eat five servings of fruit and vegetables each day. Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels within healthy ranges.

See high blood pressure exercises for more tips on lowering blood pressure naturally.

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