Rates of stroke are on the rise, affecting millions across the globe. Unfortunately, rates of obesity also continue to climb and in many ways, these two conditions are not independent of one another. Of course, there are a number of potential factors in terms of stroke risk, however, obesity is a leading cause.
What’s the Connection Between Stroke Risk and Obesity?
When you’re obese, or even overweight, you place immense stress on your body. From plaque in your arteries to deep abdominal fat, weight gain increases your risk of a stroke. In many cases, plaque causes blood to clot and if a clot occurs close to your brain, the flow of blood and oxygen will be obstructed.
It’s been well-documented that as obesity increases, so does one’s stroke risk. Within one study, published in Stroke, it was found that stroke risk was significantly associated with obesity — mainly BMI and waist circumference. Since this study followed 13,549 participants for 19 years, it’s clear that the results are significant.
With each measure of obesity, one’s risk of stroke increased. When examining obesity based on waist circumference, for instance, it was found that individuals experienced a risk that was up to 3.19 times higher. It was stated that obesity increases rates of high blood pressure and diabetes — two major stroke risk factors.
Reduce Your Risk of Stroke Today
Don’t wait until your health declines in order to take action. The best form of treatment is prevention — so change your lifestyle today in order to protect your future. Of course, it’s clear that you should lose weight if you’re at risk, however, there are other key steps that you can take as well.
In many ways, when you maintain a healthy weight, all other factors take care of themselves. From high blood sugar to high cholesterol, those who eat healthy and remain active, generally reduce risk factors naturally. Here are just some of the ways in which you can reduce your risk:
- Get moving — It’s well understood that an active lifestyle can reduce your risk of disease, but you may be surprised how beneficial exercise truly is. It’s been found that when walking a total of 2 hours per week, individuals are able to reduce their stroke risk by 30 percent. Of course, that’s the minimum — so once you incorporate strength and interval training, you can reduce your risk even further.
- Pay attention to your mental health — For those who suffer from depression, it may increase your stroke risk by 29 percent. There are many contributing factors, however, it’s believed that depressed individuals smoke more, exercise less, and weigh more on average. As mentioned, this increases one’s risk of diabetes and hypertension — the two major stroke risk factors. Know the signs and if you truly believe you’re suffering from depression, seek the type of assistance you require.
- Get enough sleep, but not too much — As a society, many aren’t getting enough sleep, which is leading to a number of key health concerns. On the other hand, sleeping too much may be equally damaging. Within one Harvard study, those who slept more than 10 hours a night, increased their stroke risk by 63 percent.
- Eat a balanced diet — No surprise here, as a healthy diet can help you maintain a healthy weight, all while benefiting from an array of nutrients. Cut back on your intake of dairy and red meat, focusing on more lean protein sources, vegetables, fruit, nuts, and seeds. Also, drink plenty of water, eliminating soda from your diet.
- Supplement — There are plenty of supplements available to help you meet your needs. Whether you need to increase your intake of B-vitamins or would like to consume a daily dose of fish oil, there are plenty of options available. Supplements help combat deficiencies, ensuring that your body functions at an optimal level.
At the end of the day, you need to change what you can — manage what you can’t. You play a key role in terms of stroke risk, as well as your risk of heart attacks, cancer, and so much more. When you take your health seriously, you will notice that you feel better for years to come.