As one of the leading causes of death in the US, many seniors suffer a stroke every year. Roughly 60% of elderly women and 40% of elderly men that experience a stroke die as a result. Strokes put countless aging-in-place seniors in the hospital each year, and some lose their independence permanently as a result.  For those lucky enough to survive, stroke-related complications may include speech disorders, blood clots, depression and chronic headaches. Fortunately, making healthier lifestyle choices can play a large part in lowering one’s stroke risk in the first place. 

What Causes a Stroke?

A stroke occurs when an oxygen-carrying blood vessel to the brain gets blocked or bursts. Once that oxygen supply is cut off, brain cells begin to die, which then causes permanent damage that affects certain motor functions like speech, movement, eyesight and memory.

The Different Types of Strokes

There are 3 basic types of strokes:

  • Ischemic. These account for roughly 85% of all strokes. They occur when narrow arteries that supply the brain with oxygen get blocked by a blood clot. There are 2 kinds of ischemic strokes based on where the clot forms, embolic and thrombolic.  
  • Hemorrhagic. This rarer type of stroke happens when arteries found in the brain start to leak blood into the brain itself, placing pressure on sensitive brain tissues. If the blood vessel bursts, emergency surgery is required to relieve pressure.
  • Transient ischemic attacks (TIAs). Also known as mini strokes, TIAs also happen when blood flow to the brain gets restricted, causing temporary symptoms that mimic those found with other types of strokes. Unfortunately, someone experiencing TIAs is at high risk for having a full-blown stroke within a year. 

Physicians also subclassify strokes based on the area of the brain that’s targeted.

Stroke Prevention Tips for Older Adults

As a concerned senior or an informal caregiver, any effective stroke prevention program for seniors needs to include these steps:

Eat a healthy diet

Although it won’t directly lower one’s stroke risk, a healthy diet will reduce the overall likelihood to develop chronic diseases and acute medical conditions like a stroke. Replacing saturated fats, red meats, refined grains, sodium and excess sugar with fresh veggies and fruits, seafood and whole grains is a great start.

Exercise regularly

Once they’re cleared by their doctor, engaging in moderate physical activities like swimming, walking, cycling or Yoga for 150 minutes per week can significantly lower one’s stroke risk. If otherwise healthy enough, doing only 75 minutes per week of more vigorous activity will provide the same health benefits.

Don’t smoke

Cigarette smoking doubles your risk of stroke because it speeds up clot formation and plaque buildup in blood vessels. If you’re at all concerned about