Five Ways To Lower Your Stroke Risk


According to the Stroke Association, more than 100,000 people have a stroke every year in the UK.

That’s one around every five minutes.

But did you know that many strokes are preventable?

How can you reduce the risk of a stroke?

*Eat a healthy diet. A healthy diet can help keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels from becoming too high. Try to avoid foods that are high in salt, and processed foods.

*Exercise regularly. Two and a half hours moderately intense activity (such as cycling or fast walking) every week is recommended.

*Avoid smoking. Stopping smoking also helps to significantly reduce your risk of cancers and heart disease. The NHS Smoking Helpline can offer help and advice – 0300 123 1044.

*Keep alcohol consumption moderate. Too much alcohol can increase your likelihood of a stroke threefold.

*Watch your weight. Being overweight increases your chances of developing high blood pressure, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, all of which can increase your stroke risk.

Also, try to avoid stress. It could be as important a risk factor as smoking or high blood pressure.

Recognising the signs of a stroke

Remember F.A.S.T.:

Face – it may drop on one side; you may be unable to smile. Your mouth or eye may droop.

Arms – you may be unable to lift both arms and keep them there.

Speech – may become slurred or garbled, or it may be difficult to talk at all. It may also be difficult for the victim of a stroke to understand what’s being said to them.

Time – to call 999 immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.

Other symptoms can include paralysis of one side of the body; dizziness or confusion; a sudden and very severe headache; problems with balance; blurring or sudden loss of vision; and difficulty swallowing. These symptoms may not mean you’re having a stroke, but they can be warning signs – so if in doubt, get checked out.

Be Aware Of Risk Factors

If a close family member has had a stroke, you may be at a slightly increased risk. Likewise if you’re aged 55 or older; if you’re male; or if you’re of South Asian, African or Caribbean origin.

Find out more on the NHS website and at, or call their Helpline on 0303 3033 100.

Click here for more health advice from the pages of “The People’s Friend”.

Lucy Crichton

Fiction Editor Lucy is always on the look-out for the very best short stories, poems and pocket novels. As well as sourcing enjoyable content, she enjoys working with our established contributors, encouraging new talent, and celebrating 155 years of 'Friend' fiction!