Your lifestyle can protect your brain – small lifestyle changes largely reduce stroke risk

Image Credit: American Heart Association

Image Credit: American Heart Association

Dear Dr. Mo: Someone I know has just had a stroke. What can I do to reduce my risks of stroke? I’m middle aged and generally in good health.

Dear reader: What we have long suspected, the latest study published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke confirms: By making small changes in our lifestyle, we could reduce our risk of having a stroke by up to 48%, depending on our general health status – the better our overall health, the larger the reduction in stroke risk!

Researchers in the study assessed stroke risk by using the American Heart Association’s  Life’s Simple 7 health factors: 

  1. Be active
  2. Control cholesterol
  3. Eat a healthy diet
  4. Manage blood pressure
  5. Maintain a healthy weight
  6. Control blood sugar and
  7. Don’t smoke


Although all 7 factors are very important, having ideal blood pressure was the most important indicator of stroke risk, according to researchers in this study and by comparison, those with ideal  blood pressure had a 60% lower risk of future stroke than those with poor blood pressure status.

Another important finding was that those who didn’t smoke or had quit smoking more than one year before the beginning of the study, had a 40% lower risk of stroke.

Stroke can instantly kill but it can also leave debilitating, long term and at times, permanent consequences on our health and quality of life.  Use these 7 simple pieces of advice to adjust your lifestyles today and become proactive in reducing your stroke risks.

Yours in health,

Dr. Mo