As a family caregiver to an older adult, this may be the best news you read today. Stroke rates have been consistently dropping since the 1980s. Better than that, there’s no sign of the decline stopping!
What Stroke Research Indicates
New research shows that between the years of 1987 and 2017, stroke rates have dropped by about 33 percent every 10 years. Experts aren’t sure exactly why strokes are occurring less often than they used to. One theory is that fewer people smoke today than in the past. Since smoking is a major risk factor for stroke, lower smoking rates could correlate to lower stroke rates. However, the number of people with high blood pressure or high cholesterol has risen, so it would seem that would cancel out the drop due to fewer smokers. That means there must be something else driving the decrease in strokes.
In a new study, researchers from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in Baltimore looked into stroke rate trends. They used data from a heart health study that began in 1987 and involved nearly 15,800 participants. In addition to seeing the reduction in stroke rates, the researchers also noticed that more people were on medications for high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
While the study did not take into account how well other blood pressure was actually controlled or lifestyle factors that affect stroke risks, the research does suggest that lowered stroke rates may have something to do with treating the conditions that can lead to stroke.
Lifestyle Changes to Further Reduce Stroke Risk
The research indicates that if your older family member has high blood pressure or high cholesterol, it’s important that they follow their doctor’s treatment plan to manage the condition. In addition to taking their medications, there are also lifestyle changes that can lower your aging relative’s risk of stroke even more, such as:
-Lose Weight: If the senior is overweight or obese, losing even a little weight can lower their stroke risk.
-Quit Smoking: Older adults who smoke should quit. Not only will it lower their stroke risk, but it will also lower the risk of several other serious diseases, including cancer.
-Physical Activity: Exercise helps with managing both cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Aim for 30 minutes per day on at least 5 days of the week.
-Improve Diet: Eating a diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains and low-fat proteins is also an excellent way to lower the risk of stroke.
Home care can assist older adults to incorporate lifestyle changes that will keep them healthier and make having a stroke less likely.
A home care provider can cook healthy meals that focus on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and that do not use a lot of salt. Home care providers can also encourage a senior who is trying to quit smoking and offer them a distraction from the urge to smoke. In addition, a home care provider can increase a senior’s physical activity by keeping them moving more around the house, going for walks with them, or driving them to an exercise class.
If you, or an aging loved-one, are considering hiring a Caregiver in Encinitas, CA, or the Surrounding San Diego Area, please contact the caring staff at GoldenCare today. Call us at 760-828-5201.