If you’ve had a stroke, your risk of another stroke increases — unless you make some changes.
One of the feelings someone might have after a stroke is fear of having another one. Sadly, someone who has had a stroke does have an increased risk of having a second stroke. That’s because the factors that caused the first stroke are likely still there, so the event may happen again. That’s why it’s important to talk to your doctor about how to lower your risk of a second stroke.
Doctors categorize stroke risk factors as either:
- Modifiable: Factors you can change, such as your habits
- Non-modifiable: Factors you cannot change, such as your age
After a stroke, you and your doctor will try to target all of your modifiable risk factors to lower your chances of another stroke.
What are the ways to lower the risk of another stroke?
Your doctor may suggest the following tips to help lower your risk of a second stroke:
1. Stop smoking
Smoking is one of the biggest risk factors for stroke. It reduces the amount of oxygen in the lungs. It also has a negative effect on blood pressure, which is itself a risk factor for stroke.
2. Stick to the medicines prescribed by your doctor
Often, your doctor will prescribe medicines after a stroke to help improve your overall cardiovascular health. These include:
- Blood pressure-lowering medicines, such as ACE inhibitors
- Cholesterol-lowering medicines, such as statins
- Glucose-lowering medicines, since high blood sugar can worsen damage to the blood vessels
It’s important that you take these as prescribed. Sticking to the medications may help reduce your stroke risk factors, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
3. Exercise regularly
A sedentary lifestyle increases the possibility of another stroke. The general recommendation is to get 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week. You can divide that up throughout the week, such as 30 minutes of exercise five days a week.
If you’re not used to exercising, going for walks is a great place to start. You should talk to your doctor about what is safe for you and how to get started on an exercise plan. They may refer you to a physical therapist or other expert who can help.
4. Eat a healthy diet
As mentioned before, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are risk factors for stroke. Your diet has a big influence on these two numbers. Diets that are high in saturated fats and sodium may make blood pressure and cholesterol worse.
A heart-healthy diet focuses on:
- Whole grains
- Beans and legumes
- Nuts and seeds
- Lean proteins
Where can I get help with stroke prevention?
You don’t have to navigate stroke prevention on your own. Your doctor and care team will play a big role in helping you recover from your stroke and lower your chance of another one.
You might receive stroke rehabilitation. This is a guided program with a variety of medical experts to help you recover from stroke. These experts may also be able to provide support as you make changes to lower your chance of another stroke.