Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

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.

Diet

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, kidney disease or diabetes in just a few minutes using the healthdirect 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.

Exercise

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

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.

Alcohol

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

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Prevent Stroke Stroke Foundation - Australia

Information about stroke

Read more on Stroke Foundation website

Five ways to reduce your risk of stroke

Read more on Quit Victoria website

StrokeLine Stroke Foundation - Australia

Get help after stroke

Read more on Stroke Foundation website

"The day I couldn't recognise my wife"

Read more on Quit Victoria website

Stroke hits women hardest Stroke Foundation - Australia

Read more on Stroke Foundation website

High blood pressure should be treated - myDr.com.au

Having hypertension (high blood pressure) increases your risk of serious conditions such as stroke and heart attack. Find out when to have your blood pressure checked and what to do if yours is high.

Read more on myDr website

Prevention | enableme - stroke recovery and support

Risk of stroke is influenced by a number of factors. The more risk factors you have the higher your chance of having a stroke. How can you minimise the risk?

Read more on Stroke Foundation website

Women and stroke - Better Health Channel

Stroke is the second biggest killer of Australian women and kills more women than breast cancer.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Stroke - Brain Foundation

Stroke Stroke is a medical emergency

Read more on Brain Foundation website

Transient Ischaemic Attack - Brain Foundation

Transient Ischaemic Attack Warning Signs of Stroke A stroke may be caused by (a) blockage of a blood vessel within the brain (cerebral infarction), (b) rupture of a blood vessel within the brain (cerebral haemorrhage), or (c) rupture of a blood vessel into the space surrounding the brain (subarachnoid haemorrhage)

Read more on Brain Foundation website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo