Every 40 seconds someone in the U.S. suffers a stroke. In fact, 800,000 Americans suffer a stroke every year.
While a stroke often has short-term health consequences for those who survive, such as partial paralysis, inability to speak and memory loss, stroke also presents a long-term risk to your intellectual abilites. The latest research shows that having a stroke can dramatically increase your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
There are two main types of strokes – ischemic and hemorraghic. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when an artery supplying blood to the brain fails and begins to bleed. An ischemic stroke results from an artery blockage that cuts off blood flow to a part of the brain. The latter are the most common, affecting 87 percent of stroke victims. They also appear to be the most dangerous to your memory.
Ischemic Stroke Doubles Dementia Risk
A study in Israel shows that suffering from an ischemic stroke doubles your chance of dementia. What’s more, the risk increases even further if the stroke is very severe or if you suffer from more than one stroke.1
In the study, researchers analyzed the health data of more than 15,000 people aged 45 to just 64 over a period of about 30 years. The researchers discovered that having three or more strokes increased the risk of dementia by an alarming 8.5 times!
What’s more, even having one severe stroke multiplied the dementia risk by five times when compared to someone who’d only had one minor stroke.
But there’s good news. By following a few lifestyle tips to lower your risk for stroke, you can also lower your risk for memory loss later in life.
Protecting Yourself Against Stroke
Fortunately, there’s plenty of research that shows how simple, healthy lifestyle changes can protect you against both strokes and dementia.
For example, a large study in Ontario, Canada found that a public health stroke prevention program emphasizing healthy habits reduced the rate of both stroke and dementia in seniors. The widespread health education program focused on getting people to give up smoking, exercise more and control their blood pressure. During this research, scientists analyzed information on the overall health, not merely instances of stroke and dementia, from 5.5 million people in Ontario over 12 years.
They found the incidence of stroke dropped for participants in the program over the age of 50. And for people over the age of 80, strokes fell by 37.9 percent, while the incidence of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia declined by 15.4 percent.2
If you’re ready to get your own stroke risk under better control, here’s what to do:
- Walk about half an hour a day: A study in Sweden demonstrates that you only have to walk around 35 minutes daily to lower your chances of a severe stroke.3
- Avoid oral contraceptives: Research at the University of Maryland shows that oral contraceptives elevate a woman’s stroke risk. Another study showed the risk is small, increasing stroke risk for eight out of every 100,000 women. This occurs because oral contraceptives can raise blood pressure and also make blood more likely to clot. The good news is that when a woman stops taking oral contraceptives, this increase appears to fall away. What really matters, say the University of Maryland researchers, is whether or not other stroke risk factors are present, such as smoking. Their study found that for women with non-type O blood, taking oral contraceptives and being a smoker is particularly dangerous – quadrupling the possibility of suffering a stroke.4
- Eat more vegetables and less processed food or sugar: Research at Harvard indicates that eating a healthier plant-based diet can lower your stroke risk by 10 percent.5
- Drink green tea and/or coffee: A study in Japan involving 46,000 people shows that drinking green tea or coffee daily reduces your stroke risk and the chances that you may die from a stroke or heart attack.6
- Stay away from tobacco: Smoking dramatically increases your stroke risk.
- Manage high blood pressure: When you suffer from high blood pressure, not only can this increase your risk of stroke, but high blood pressure alone can increase your risk of memory loss. And, if you also smoke while suffering with high blood pressure, your stroke risk skyrockets.7
The research is clear: By protecting your body against stroke of any kind, you’re not only protecting your heart, you’re protecting your brain and lowering your risk of eventually developing Alzheimer’s disease or some other type of memory-robbing dementia.
Best of all, by following the simple healthy lifestyle changes we advise in this newsletter every week you’re already a giant leap ahead in stroke prevention.