Healthy Living Could be the Key to Stroke Prevention

Healthy Living Could be the Key to Stroke Prevention

A region cardiologist says a healthy lifestyle may be the key to preventing strokes.

Strokes, or “brain attacks,” claim the lives of nearly 160,000 Americans each year. As the fifth leading killer and the most common cause of disability, strokes devastate individuals and families every day. However, strokes can be prevented by up to 80% through adopting a healthy lifestyle and controlling stroke risk factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

According to the National Stroke Association, two million brain cells die every minute during a stroke, increasing the risk of permanent brain damage, disability or death. Recognizing signs of a stroke and seeking immediate medical treatment is crucial for increasing the chance of survival and decreasing the chances of permanent disabilities. Signs of a stroke can come suddenly and include severe headache, dizziness, impaired movement, sight, speech and confusion.

To remember signs of a stroke, use the acronym F.A.S.T. which stands for Face, Arms, Speech and Time. If one side of a person’s Face droops, they have difficulty raising one or both Arms or their Speech is slurred, it’s Time to call 911.

“Every 40 seconds, someone suffers from a stroke, but there are steps you can take to prevent them with simple, healthy lifestyle habits,” says Maya Kommineni, M.D., MPH, a cardiologist with Northwest Medical Group. “If a stroke does occur, catching it early and getting help immediately is essential for improving survival, minimizing disability and accelerating recovery times.”

Dr. Kommineni recommends four healthy lifestyle habits to help prevent strokes.

  • Don’t smoke: If you smoke, stop, and also avoid secondhand smoke. The risk of having a stroke increases 12% for every five cigarettes smoked each day. For African American adults, smoking cigarettes more than doubles the risk of stroke compared to never smoking.
  • Eat well: Prioritize eating high quality food like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and nuts while limiting foods with high cholesterol, saturated fats and trans fats.
  • Exercise: The American Heart Association found those who are more active have a 25% - 30% lower risk of stroke. Exercising can be as simple as walking, gardening or riding a bike.
  • Reduce alcohol: Drinking too much alcohol can increase blood pressure levels and triglycerides, a form of fat in the blood that can harden arteries. For women, limit alcohol to one serving per day, and two servings per day for men.

Northwest Health - La Porte and Northwest Health – Porter are both certified by The Joint Commission as Primary Stroke Centers which means they specialize in the rapid treatment of stroke patients. As Primary Stroke Centers, their stroke care teams have demonstrated expertise in the early assessment, rapid diagnosis and treatment of stroke emergencies.

To learn more about stroke prevention, visit

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Kommineni in Valparaiso or Portage, call 219-983-6300. To schedule an appointment with her in Michigan City, call 219-879-6021.