AHA/ASA Issue Updated Guidelines on Stroke Prevention
Eating Mediterranean or DASH-style diets, regularly engaging in physical activity and keeping blood pressure under control can lower risk of a first-time stroke, according to an updated American Heart Association (AHA)/American Stroke Association (ASA) guideline for the primary prevention of stroke published Oct. 29 in Stroke.
The statement aims to provide the best comprehensive and timely evidence-based recommendations on the prevention of stroke for the medical and patient community. Among its notable deterrent practices, the document advocates for adherence to a Mediterranean or DASH-style diet, which place an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, poultry and fish. Both are limited in red meat and foods containing saturated fats, which are mostly found in animal-based products such as meat, butter, cheese, and full-fat dairy.
Additional guidelines suggest that individuals with high blood pressure monitor their levels with a cuff device at home. To keep pre-hypertension from becoming high blood pressure, changes in lifestyle such as getting more physical activity, eating a healthy diet and managing weight (particularly reducing the amount of sodium, usually found in salt) are also recommended. The guidelines also advise that individuals visit their health care provider annually for blood pressure evaluation and to report negative side effects of any blood pressure medication they’re taking, and to refrain from smoking. Putting a unique focus on women, the guidelines explain that for females who experience migraines with aura, smoking raises their risk of stroke even more than in the general population.
“We have a huge opportunity to improve how we prevent new strokes, because risk factors that can be changed or controlled—especially high blood pressure—account for 90 percent of strokes,” said James Meschia, MD, lead author of the study and professor and chairman of neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL. “Talking about stroke prevention is worthwhile. In many instances, stroke isn’t fatal, but it leads to years of physical, emotional and mental impairment that could be avoided.”
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