It’s a sobering fact for diabetics: studies show that the risk of stroke, especially clot-related (ischemic) stroke is higher for diabetics than it is for non-diabetics. For diabetic women, the news is more staggering, as diabetes is even more likely to be a cause of stroke in women than it is for diabetic men. Fortunately, there are ways to help beat the odds.
How Diabetics Can Lower Their Stroke Risk
While the link is not top-of-mind for everyone, stroke is actually a form of cardiovascular disease. That’s because it’s related to the circulation of blood to your brain. It’s worth noting because among doctors at the American Heart Association®, they’ve agreed that diabetes is one of seven major controllable risk factors for cardiovascular disease, which, as we’ve noted, includes stroke.
Here are 7 heart-healthy steps to help lower the risk of stroke for diabetics.
1. Begin with a Healthy Diet
A heart healthy diet is one of those steps that seems obvious but isn’t always easy. Yet, when you consider what’s at stake – and what it can mean in terms of being there for your family and loved ones – transitioning to a high fiber, low saturated fat/trans-fat diet becomes a bit easier to tackle.
2. Keep Your Blood Sugar in Check
As a diabetic, you already know the importance of following your doctor’s guidance for monitoring your blood sugar regularly. The benefits for lowering your stroke risk are that staying on top of your blood sugar keeps insulin levels in balance, reducing the possibility of blood vessel damage.
3. Get & Stay Active
Start by talking to your doctor before you begin any new exercise routine.
Then, aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise several days each week. When you find activities you actually enjoy – especially when you partner up with a friend or loved one – you’re more likely to stick with it and make exercise part of your new heart-healthy lifestyle
4. Watch Your Weight
Nearly all type 2 diabetics are overweight or obese. The problem for diabetics wanting to reduce stroke risk is that extra weight makes hearts work harder than they should, increasing a number of heart health risks.
The good news? Losing weight can help you manage diabetes and resist the risk of a stroke. Many diabetics have even successfully become non-diabetics by losing weight.
5. Give up Smoking
It can be a challenging addiction for some. However, there are many ways to become a non-smoker for good, and it may even be covered by your insurance. Talk to your doctor about finding a plan that will work for you.
6. Talk to Your Doctor about Aspirin
A doctor-directed regimen of low dose aspirin can help keep your blood flowing. Check with your doctor to see if an aspirin regimen is right for you.
7. Stay Current on Your Medications and Get Regular Checkups
Even when you’ve got your diabetes under control, the risk of stroke means that it’s still important to check in with your doctor. Make and keep your regular doctor appointments, follow your doctor’s direction about prescription medications, and don’t be afraid to get the answers you need to stay on the road to living the heart-healthy, diabetic life.