Steps You Can Take to Prevent Stroke

Steps You Can Take to Prevent Stroke

In 1973, when 30-year-old Billie Jean King played the former #1 male tennis champ, 55-year-old Bobby Riggs, in the “Battle of the Sexes,” it was her relentless stroke that defeated the blowhard hustler 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.

Game: Medically speaking, a big stroke isn’t something you want! Nonetheless, 795,000 Americans have a stroke annually—87 percent are ischemic, meaning blood flow to the brain is critically reduced or blocked. The result can be devastating: stroke is the leading cause of serious long-term disability; one of 20 U.S. adult deaths is caused by stroke.

Set: Americans seemed to be winning the battle against stroke; the incidence was decreasing. However, according to the CDC, that decrease is reversing in 20 states and stalling in most others. The reason? There is an alarming increase in stroke among people 35-44—triggered by diabetes, obesity, inactivity, elevated LDL cholesterol, untreated stress, high blood pressure and smoking. From 2003 to 2012, hospitalization for acute ischemic stroke for that age group jumped 41.5 percent for men and 30 percent for women.

Match: Most strokes are preventable if you:

  • Eat seven to nine servings daily of produce
  • Ditch highly processed foods and red meat
  • Avoid anything with added sugars
  • Learn to manage stress
  • Walk 10,000 steps daily

That’ll help keep LDL cholesterol in check (aim for under 100mg/dL), help maintain a healthy weight, help control blood pressure (aim for under 125/85) and lower your RealAge.

Victory: Then you’ll never have to say what Bobby Riggs said to Billie Jean about her strokes: "I really underestimated you."

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

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