Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease. It increases the levels of triglycerides in your blood and lowers the HDL (good) cholesterol, thereby increasing the thickness of the blood. The chances of clot formation increase and blood flow to the heart as well as brain can be hampered. Smoking also increases the tendency to plaque formation, and disease of atherosclerosis of the blood vessels. Therefore, it is important to quit smoking. Passive smoking also increases your risk and should be avoided as far as possible.

Although studies have shown that drinking alcohol reduces the risk of suffering from stroke, it is only true for the consumption of low to moderate quantities of alcohol. Furthermore, consuming a high amount of alcohol has shown to increase the risk of both hemorrhagic and ischemic stroke. Stroke risk can increase drastically with an average of over 3 drinks/day. In general women have a higher risk than men, and the risk for death was much higher compared to the risks for lasting debility or disability post-stroke.

Increased blood pressure (hypertension) is a major risk factor for both ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke. The chances of death due to stroke also increase if the person is suffering from hypertension. People suffering from hypertension should take their prescribed medicines daily and on time. Monitoring your blood pressure on a regular basis is vital. You should consult your healthcare professional if blood pressure is not in the normal range even after taking medications. The doctor may advice a change in medication or diet. People who do not have hypertension, should get their blood pressure checked regularly, as often due to lack of signs and symptoms, hypertension is not detected and the diagnosis is made accidently.

Uncontrolled diabetes increases the tendency of blood vessels to undergo atherosclerotic changes and worsens the lipid levels in the body. Thus, blood supply to heart is impaired and chances of cardiac events like a heart attack increase. Diabetes is also a major risk factor for stroke as uncontrolled diabetes increases the oxidative stress in your body. Hence, it is advisable that you control your blood sugar levels to avert a stroke in the future. If you are suffering from diabetes, remember to take your medicines regularly and keep a tab on your blood sugar levels. Those who are not suffering from diabetes, should get their sugar levels checked annually once above 35.

A sedentary lifestyle causes an increase in body weight, leading to obesity. Obesity itself is linked to two of the biggest risk factors for stroke i.e. high blood pressure and diabetes. On the other hand, regular exercise helps in maintaining optimal body weight and regulates blood pressure and diabetes at the same time. If you are overweight, losing a few kilos can dramatically reduce your stroke risk. Try to maintain your body mass index (BMI) at around 25. This can be done by keeping a tab on your diet ensuring that you do not consume more that 1,500 to 2,000 calories per day, depending on the type of your work. Try to introduce some form of physical activity like walking, golfing, playing tennis, or swimming in your daily routine as this will help you in achieving your goal faster.

Regular health check-ups once you cross 35 are important to avoid these catastrophic events. Follow the above mentioned 5 golden rules to avoid a stroke and lead a stroke-free, stress free, life.