Alarming fact: Stroke risk among women ages 35 to 44 catapulted up 36 percent within the last decade, according to a recent survey.
Ischemic stroke, the most common kind, occurs when a blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain becomes blocked. While ischemic strokes in older people have been declining in recent years, they have been increasing among younger people.
Doctors think that common stroke risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol among young women may be partly to blame. The good news is that up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented. So what's the best way to protect yourself?
Watch your blood pressure and cholesterol
High blood pressure is the most important risk factor for stroke, according to the National Stroke Association. High blood pressure causes the heart to work harder and puts unnecessary stress on blood vessels. High cholesterol can block normal blood flow to the brain and cause a stroke.
Maintain a healthy weight
Being obese raises your risk of having high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes -- all of which can increase your risk for stroke.
Physical activity can help reduce stroke risk. A recent study showed that people who exercise 5 or more times per week have a reduced stroke risk.
Eating a diet that is low in calories, saturated and trans fats and cholesterol helps manage both obesity and cholesterol levels in the blood, while cutting back on sodium
can help keep high blood pressure in check.
Risk of stroke doubles in people who smoke compared to nonsmokers.
Restrict alcohol intake to no more than one or two alcoholic drinks a day.