Lifestyle and home remediesBy Mayo Clinic staff
Making healthy choices in your daily life can help prevent or slow the progression of carotid artery disease and help prevent the occurrence of a TIA or a stroke. Here are some suggestions:
- Don't smoke. Stopping smoking reduces stress on your arteries and cuts your risk of a TIA or a stroke. Within a few years of quitting, a former smoker's risk of stroke is similar to a nonsmoker's. It's never too late to quit. It's also never too early.
- Limit cholesterol and fat. Cutting back on cholesterol and fat, especially saturated fat, in your diet may reduce buildup of plaques in your arteries.
- Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. These foods contain such nutrients as potassium, folate and antioxidants, which may protect against a TIA or a stroke.
- Limit sodium. Avoiding salt may not prevent hypertension, but excess sodium may increase blood pressure in people who are sensitive to sodium. For healthy adults, most experts recommend less than 1,500 milligrams a day of sodium. If you have high blood pressure, keeping to the lower end of the range may help reduce your blood pressure.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise can lower your blood pressure, increase your level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol — the "good" cholesterol — and improve the overall health of your blood vessels and heart. It also helps you lose weight, control diabetes and reduce stress. If you have high blood pressure, engaging in 30 minutes of moderately vigorous activity (walking or swimming are two examples) on most days of the week is one of the few ways you can lower your pressure without drugs.
- Limit alcohol. Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all. The recommended limit is no more than one drink daily for women and two a day for men.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight contributes to other risk factors, such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Losing weight with diet and exercise may lower your blood pressure and improve your cholesterol levels.
- Control chronic conditions. You can manage both diabetes and high blood pressure with diet, exercise, weight control and, when necessary, medication. Remember high blood pressure is silent, so know your blood pressure numbers and know your goal blood pressure.
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