Stroke: How to Prevent Another One

Overview

After a stroke, people feel lots of different emotions. Some people are worried that they could have another stroke. Or they may feel overwhelmed by how much there is to learn and do. Some people feel sad or depressed.

No matter what emotions you are feeling, you can give yourself some control and peace of mind by following your plan to lower your risk of having another stroke.

Take your medicines

You'll need to take medicines to help prevent another stroke. Be sure to take your medicines exactly as prescribed. And don't stop taking them unless your doctor tells you to. If you stop taking your medicines, you can increase your risk of having another stroke.

Some of the medicines your doctor may prescribe include:

  • Aspirin or some other blood thinner to prevent blood clots.
  • Statins and other medicines to lower cholesterol.
  • Blood pressure medicines to lower blood pressure.

Manage other health problems

You can help lower your chance of having another stroke by managing certain other health problems. Problems that increase your risk of having another stroke include:

  • Atrial fibrillation.
  • Carotid artery disease.
  • Diabetes.
  • High blood pressure.
  • High cholesterol.

If you have any of these health problems, you can manage them with a healthy lifestyle along with medicine.

If you think you may have a problem with alcohol or drug use, talk to your doctor. This includes prescription medicines (such as amphetamines and opioids) and illegal drugs (such as cocaine and methamphetamine). Your doctor can help you figure out what type of treatment is best for you.

Have a heart-healthy lifestyle

  • Do not smoke or allow others to smoke around you. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good. Smoking makes a stroke more likely.
  • Limit alcohol to 2 drinks a day for men and 1 drink a day for women.
  • Stay at a healthy weight. Lose weight if you need to. Managing your weight will help you keep your heart and body healthy.
  • Be active. Ask your doctor what type and level of activity is safe for you.
  • Eat heart-healthy foods. These include vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, lean meat, fish, and whole grains. Limit sodium and sugar.

It's also important to:

  • Get a flu shot every year.
  • Ask for help if you think you are depressed.

Do stroke rehab

Taking part in a stroke rehabilitation (rehab) program also helps you take steps to prevent another stroke. Rehab can help you recover, prevent problems, and help you to regain skills you lost or make the most of your abilities after a stroke.

Your rehab team will give you education and support to help you build new, healthy habits. You'll learn how to manage any other health problems that you might have. You'll also learn how to exercise safely, eat a healthy diet, and quit smoking if you smoke. You'll work with your team to decide what lifestyle choices are best for you.

If your doctor hasn't already suggested it, ask if stroke rehab is right for you.

Credits

Current as of: March 28, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Richard D. Zorowitz MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

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