Get up speed on the new blood pressure recommendations. “High blood pressure is the number one cause of stroke, so it is the most Important risk factor to control,” says Robyn Moore, CEO of the nonprofit National Stroke Association. The guidelines for what at considered healthy blood pressure numbers dropped recently, from under 140/90 to under 120/80, so even if your BP has always been fine, it’s a good time to get checked again.

Consider cholesterol-controlling meds, even if your numbers aren’t high. National Stroke Association guidelines recommend aiming to keep your total cholesterol under 200, with your LDL (bad) cholesterol under 100.

Walk briskly for 30 minutes a day. “Getting into the exercise habit is the best thing you can do for your heart and your blood vessels,” says Daniel Labovitz, M.D., director of the Stern Stroke Center at the New York based Montefiore Medical Center. “You don’t have to train for the Olympics.”

Women: Know your hormone-related risk factors. HRT (hormone replacement therapy) for menopause that contains estrogen is still believed to up your risk of a stroke., says Sarah Lee, M.D., neurologist at the Stanford Stroke Center in the San Francisco Bay Area. If your HRT is progestin-only, you’re in the clear. (If your not sure what type you had or undergoing, ask your doctor.

Keep your chronic conditions in check. Diabetes, sleep apnea and atrial fibrillation all raise your risk of stroke, particularly if they are undiagnosed or uncontrolled. Shortness of breath and heart palpitations are warning signs of atrial fibrillation, snoring and excessive sleepiness can indicate sleep apnea. If you have any of these symptoms, it’s time for a doctor visit.

Source: Parade magazine supplement to The Elyria Chronicle newspaper 4-22-2018