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Stroke prevention through a healthy lifestyle

3-minute read

The best way to prevent a stroke is to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and avoid smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol.


A poor diet is a major risk factor for a stroke. High-fat foods can lead to the build-up of fatty plaques in your arteries and being overweight can lead to high blood pressure.

A low-fat, high-fibre diet is recommended, including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (5 portions a day) as well as whole grains. You should also limit the amount of salt you eat. And you should avoid food containing saturated fats because these will increase your cholesterol levels.

However, a balanced diet should include a small amount of unsaturated fat, which will help reduce your cholesterol levels.

Are you at risk?

Find out if you're at risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes or kidney disease using our Risk Checker.

For more information about healthy diet recommendations for Australians, read more about balanced eating, healthy food swaps and see the Australian Dietary Guidelines.


Combining a healthy diet with regular exercise is the best way to maintain a healthy weight. Having a healthy weight reduces your chances of developing high blood pressure.

Regular exercise will keep your heart healthy and help your blood to circulate more efficiently. It will also lower your cholesterol level and keep your blood pressure at a healthy level.

For most people, you should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most (preferably all) days of the week.

If you are recovering from a stroke, you should discuss possible exercise plans with the members of your rehabilitation team. Regular exercise may be impossible in the first weeks or months following a stroke, but you should be able to begin exercising once your rehabilitation has progressed.


Smoking doubles your risk of having a stroke. The more you smoke, the greater your risk of having a stroke. This is because it narrows your arteries and makes your blood more likely to clot. Visit the Quitnow website for more information.


Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to high blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation). Both are major risk factors for stroke.

Because alcoholic drinks are rich in energy (high in calories), they also cause weight gain. Heavy drinking multiplies the risk of stroke by more than 3 times. You should aim for no more than 2 standards drinks a day.

Visit the Stroke Foundation for more information on stroke prevention.

Not sure what to do next?

If you are still concerned about stroke, check your symptoms with healthdirect's online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self-care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: July 2019

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