Did you know that almost 800,000 U.S. citizens suffer a stroke each year?

Now, this statistic is not as damning as it appears. For starters, the stroke death rate is not as high as it used to be. Of course, for people who are older than 65 or have a family history of stroke (FHS), stroke prevention is still key.

The good news: knowing how to control your risk factors can tilt the odds in your favor. In fact, experts say that 80% of all strokes are preventable. Here are 5 simple tips on how to avoid a stroke.

1. Lower Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is the most common cause of stroke. This condition causes cholesterol to build up, potentially blocking the brain’s blood supply. If you’re not managing your blood pressure, this alone can quadruple your stroke risk. 

The best way to manage blood pressure is to track it on a regular basis. Also, eating 4-5 cups of fruits and vegetables each day and avoiding high-cholesterol foods will help you keep the pressure down.

2. Drink in Moderation

Alcohol is another thing that can raise your blood pressure — and your triglycerides. Sure, having one drink per day won’t do you any harm. At two drinks or more, though, your risk of stroke starts going up sharply.

If you don’t want to give up that one drink per day, make it red wine. This type of alcohol contains resveratrol, a natural phenol that protects the heart.

3. Quit Smoking

Tobacco can speed up clot formation in several ways. Other than thickening your blood, it will cause plaque buildup in your arteries. Nicotine also raises blood pressure and lowers your “good” cholesterol levels.

If you’re trying to quit cigarettes, keep in mind that most smokers need a few tries to kick the addiction. Nicotine pills and patches can be of big help in this regard. For more information on how to quit, consult with your doctor.

4. Treat Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is a form of arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat. It leads to the creation of blood clots, which can then travel to the brain and produce a stroke.

Dealing with atrial fibrillation is a common method of stroke treatment. If you’re experiencing shortness of breath or heart palpitations, go see your doctor. Chances are you’ll need to start taking anticoagulant drugs.

5. Exercise

Laying on your couch all day can lead to obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Needless to say, this won’t help you in preventing strokes. Exercising for 30 minutes five times per week is enough to counter these effects.

If this sounds tiresome, remember that you’re not preparing for a marathon. A walk around the neighborhood after breakfast is almost enough on its own. Talking to your doctor will help you discover your preferred exercise methods.

More on Stroke Prevention

Identifying the signs of a stroke is an essential step in stroke prevention. Are you experiencing face numbness, slurred speech, or weakness on one side of the body? If so, get professional help right away.

Sometimes, these symptoms will lead to a mini-stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA). Mini-strokes don’t cause permanent disabilities, but they raise your chances of a stroke. Here are 5 tips for reducing mini-stroke risks.