Mercy Health Physician Kent Robinson, MD Notes Seven Things You Can Do to Lower Your Stroke Risk

Mercy Health - Cincinnati, which provides advanced, quality, compassionate care in your neighborhood through its care network, wants to help you lower your risk of stroke with the following seven tips from Mercy Health Physician and internal medicine practitioner Kent Robinson, MD.

When it comes to preventing stroke, young adults could learn a thing or two from their elders. In recent years, this life-threatening condition — which occurs when blood flow to brain cells is cut off — has decreased among those age 55 and older but increased among adults under 55. Experts say it's no coincidence. People in the U.S. now are being diagnosed with diabetes and obesity — strong risk factors for stroke — at a younger age.

"Whatever your age, it's important to understand your risk factors and talk to you doctor about ways to lower your risk. Up to 80 percent of strokes are preventable," says Kent Robinson, MD, with Mercy Health — Avondale Internal Medicine.

Here are the seven most important steps that all adults can take to prevent stroke.

Control your blood pressure: High blood pressure is the No. 1 cause of stroke, according to the National Stroke Association. Measure your blood pressure regularly — either at a doctor's office or pharmacy — and follow the tips below to help keep your blood pressure in check.

Manage and reduce stress: Stress has been found to increase your risk of stroke by increasing blood pressure or causing inflammation in the body. Find healthy ways to deal with daily stressors, such as exercise, meditation or prayer.

Cut back on salt: Because salt, or sodium, raises your blood pressure, aim to consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium (about 1 teaspoon of salt) per day from all the foods you eat. This is especially important for African Americans, who may carry a gene that makes them more sensitive to salt's effects.

Watch your cholesterol: A diet that is high in LDL cholesterol can lead to plaque build-up and increased stroke risk. This "bad" cholesterol is found in high amounts in meat and full-fat dairy products, as well as in packaged baked goods and fried foods. Everyone should limit their consumption of these foods. Instead, eat whole foods and unprocessed carbohydrates (such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables) and opt for lean meats like chicken. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish, also can help reduce LDL cholesterol. In addition, adults age 20 and older should have their cholesterol checked every five years, or more frequently if recommended by your doctor.

Stop smoking: Smoking increases your risk of developing blood clots and causes plaque to build up on the walls of your arteries. Both of these conditions can block the flow of blood reaching your brain, causing stroke.

Manage your diabetes: Type 2 diabetes is the third most common condition linked to stroke and has an especially strong connection among people age 55 and younger. Like smoking and saturated fats, high blood sugar levels can deposit fatty materials on blood vessel walls, which can affect blood flow and increase your risk of clogged arteries.

Get active: Yet another reason to exercise - physical activity fights three major risk factors for stroke — obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure. Aim to get two-and-a-half hours of moderate-intensity exercise, such as walking at a brisk pace, every week. That breaks down to just 30 minutes of exercise, five days a week.

"Remember that you have the power to lower your risk for stroke," says Dr. Robinson.

Whether you want to quit smoking, eat healthier or prevent diabetes, Mercy Health is here to help. Visit e-mercy.com to find free and low-cost resources in your neighborhood. Dr. Robinson practices from Mercy Health - Avondale Internal Medicine, located at 2135 Dana Avenue, Suite 400, Cincinnati OH 45207-1227.

For more information on Dr. Robinson or to make an appointment, please call 513-585-9500. To find a Mercy Health physician in your neighborhood, or to learn about the services provided at Mercy Health, please visit e-mercy.com/physicians.asp or call 513-981-2222.