Lifestyle Changes to Manage Stroke
Part of your stroke treatment will include lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of having another
stroke. You should also follow up with your neurologist.
Extensive research has established
as a risk factor for stroke and
heart attack. If you smoke, ask your doctor about strategies to
quit. You should also avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.
Follow your doctor’s recommendations for physical activity. Choose enjoyable exercises that are safe for you. Strive to maintain an
that keeps you fit and at a healthy weight. For most people, this could include walking briskly or participating in another aerobic activity for at least 30 minutes per day. If you have had an ischemic stroke or TIA, try to exercise for at least 30 minutes 1-3 times per week. Talk to your doctor before starting a program.
Being overweight or
is associated with higher risk of stroke. Losing weight lowers that risk. To lose weight, consume fewer calories than you expend. To
maintain a healthy weight, eat an equal number of calories as you expend.
Excessive alcohol intake raises your risk of stroke. It appears that moderate alcohol intake actually reduces the risk. Studies suggest that one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men can be beneficial to the cardiovascular system. Experts agree that if you do not already drink alcohol, you do not need to start because of this recommendation. If you do drink alcohol, talk with your doctor to determine how much is healthy for you.
High blood pressure
is one of the top risk factors for stroke. Lowering your blood pressure can lower your risk of recurrent stroke or another vascular event by up to 40%. Talk to your doctor about the best treatment for lowering your blood pressure. You may need to make lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, eating a healthier diet and limiting your alcohol consumption. You may also need to take medicines to lower your blood pressure.
High total and LDL ("bad") cholesterol can increase your risk of stroke. If you have had a stroke and have high cholesterol, your doctor may recommend that you make lifestyle changes, like eating a more healthy diet and increasing your physical activity. Your doctor may also prescribe medicines to lower your cholesterol.
If you have
diabetes, you are at increased risk of vascular disease. The better you control your blood sugar levels, the slower vascular disease (and other complications) will advance. Work with your doctor and a dietitian to develop a diet and exercise plan that will help you control your blood sugar.
American College of Physicians, American Stroke Association. ACP special report: reducing your risk of stroke. American College of Physicians website. Available at:
. Accessed February 4, 2010.
American Heart Association website. Available at:
The Aspirin Foundation website. Available at:
Furie KL, Kasner SE, Adams RJ, et al. Guidelines for the Prevention of Stroke in Patients With Stroke or Transient Ischemic Attack: A Guideline for Healthcare Professionals From the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.
Stroke. 2010 October 21. Available at:
. Updated October 21, 2010. Accessed November 2, 2010.
Kasper DL, Braunwald E, Fauci A, Hauser S, Longo D, Jameson JL.
Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 16th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2004.
The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence website. Available at:
Stroke risk factors and symptoms. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at:
. Accessed February 4, 2010.
Last reviewed September 2012 by Rimas Lukas, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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