Stroke prevention advice

Stroke is a major health problem in the UK. It is the third biggest cause of death in the UK and the largest single cause of severe disability. But many strokes are preventable.  A study published in 2016 suggests 9 out of 10 strokes are preventable, and listed 10 things you can do to reduce your risk of stroke.

We are urging people to make small changes to become healthier and reduce your risk of stroke. It is never too late to change and it could make a huge difference to you and your family.

Look after your blood pressure
  • High blood pressure is the main preventable cause of stroke.
  • It is important to know your blood pressure and whether it’s a healthy range (140/90). Consult your GP promptly if advised to do so.
  • If you’re between 40 and 74, take up the offer of a NHS Health Check:
  • Being active, being a healthy weight, and having a good diet will help reduce blood pressure.
Stop smoking
  • Smoking increases your chance of numerous diseases including cancer, heart disease and strokes.
  • NHS support is available to help you quit, including using e-cigarettes to help you give up. See the links at the bottom of this page for local support.
Watch how much you drink
  • Excessive alcohol increases blood pressure; try to cut back to recommended levels, including a couple of alcohol free days per week.
  • There is NHS support available to help you at
Find out if you have diabetes
  • People with diabetes have a higher risk of kidney problems, heart disease and stroke.
  • Take up your offer of an NHS Health Check when invited, and act on the advice.
  • Ask your GP about a free diabetes education programme to manage your condition.
Eat well
  • Cut salt consumption to less than 6g per day; reduce foods high in sugar and saturated fat and increase wholegrains and fruit and vegetables.
Lower high blood cholesterol
  • Reducing your cholesterol to normal levels lowers your risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Again, take up your offer of an NHS Health Check when invited, and act upon the findings.
Get active
  • Being active can benefit you in so many ways, including improving your physical and mental health and wellbeing.
  • Move more.
  • The minimum amount per day is 30 minutes (doesn’t have to be in one go) and equivalent to a brisk walk.
Keep a healthy weight
  • Ideally waist size should be no bigger than 94cm (men) and 80cm women and your BMI should be below 25.
  • Losing weight helps reduce your blood pressure, reduces risks of other conditions including stroke.
  • Support is available through the links at the bottom of this page.
Look after your heart
  • Another major risk factor for stroke is an irregular pulse, known as atrial fibrillation.
  • Ask your GP to take your pulse at the same time as your blood pressure.
Find ways to relax
  • A bit of stress is normal and often helps us to accomplish daily challenges; however when stress turns to distress and is not under control, risks increase, including the risk of stroke.
  • Find ways to relax, talking to friends or family, and exercising regularly.

Online resources for your area: