Mini-strokes are a rude awakening. Though you got away with this one, they are a warning sign that a stroke may be looming ahead. If you suffered from a mini-stroke, you need to pay attention to the risk factors that are putting you at risk for a real stroke. Changes to your lifestyle, such as increasing exercise, are some ways that you can reduce your risk of getting a stroke.
One of the most important risk factors for stroke is high blood pressure. Monitoring your blood pressure is extremely important after a mini-stroke. Since exercise reduces the risk of stroke, can exercising more help you manage your blood pressure?
The effects of exercise after a mini-stroke
Researchers from New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States teamed up to investigate this. They looked at the effects of a 12-week exercise program on the blood pressure of patients who had a mini-stroke. A total of 47 patients were enrolled in the study, with some people getting more exercise than the others.
Those who got more exercise were working out about 30-60 minutes twice a week. Workouts involved both walking and cycling. Blood pressure and heart rate were both recorded. They also asked patients how hard they felt they were working out. The intensity of the workout was also carefully adjusted throughout the program. In the beginning, patients were exercising to 50% of their maximum heart rate. By the end, they were working at 90%.
The results showed that exercising did indeed improve blood pressure in patients after a mini-stroke. There was an average of a 7% improvement in blood pressure after the exercise program. Not only could this potentially improve the risk of stroke, but these patients tended to need less medication too! A win-win situation that advocates for more exercise.
Additionally, exercise seemed to improve the arterial stiffness in patients who suffered a mini-stroke. This fact is important since arterial stiffness directly contributes to a multitude of problems such as high blood pressure and heart disease. Though we don’t know if there is a direct correlation, we know that less arterial stiffness is definitely a good sign.
If you have recently suffered from a mini-stroke, get to the gym now. Experts conclude that aerobic exercise is good for you! It seems that walking and cycling can help you reduce your blood pressure and arterial stiffness, ultimately reducing your risk of potentially getting a stroke in the future. You’re already at a higher risk, so it’s not a good time to take a chance on this one! Walking and cycling, even swimming, are all wonderful, safe, and free exercises that you can do in your own home, at the gym, or in your neighborhood.
The lead author of this publication is Dr. James Faulkner, from the Department of Sport and Exercise at the University of Winchester in Winchester, UK.