How to Reduce Stroke Risk

In addition to watching for stroke warning signs, here are some steps you can take to understand and minimize your stroke risk factors that can be controlled.

  • Work Closely with Your Health Care Professional to control high blood pressure, high cholesterol, atrial fibrillation and diabetes. Your doctor may recommend different medications or procedures to help prevent another stroke. For ischemic strokes, these may include interventions to improve blood flow in arteries that are clogged. If any medication is prescribed, you will need to take them exactly as directed and watch for any side effects that may occur.
  • If You Smoke Cigarettes, Stop Smoking. The risk of ischemic stroke in current smokers is double that of nonsmokers.
  • Consume Alcohol Sensibly. Regular heavy drinking can raise blood pressure.
  • Eat a Healthy Diet. This includes decreasing or eliminating your intake of saturated and trans fats, lowering sodium intake to about 2000mg daily, and eating more fruits and vegetables. Most processed and fast foods should be avoided.
  • Exercise Regularly. Exercise has many beneficial effects on our heart and blood vessels. It strengthens the heart muscle, increases oxygen intake, keeps blood flowing smoothly, lowers blood pressure and helps maintain a healthy weight
  • Take Time to Enjoy Life and Lower Stress Levels. Although a certain amount of stress is unavoidable, studies suggest that stress contributes to high blood pressure. By managing stress with exercise, relaxation techniques and counseling, if needed, stroke risk may be reduced.

More than half of all strokes are caused by uncontrolled hypertension, making it the most important risk factor to control.

Medical treatments and medications may be used to control high blood pressure and/or manage atrial fibrillation among high-risk patients. Medications such as such as aspirin and warfarin interfere with the blood’s ability to clot and can play an important role in preventing stroke. Antihypertensives are medications that specifically treat high blood pressure by opening the blood vessels, decreasing blood volume or decreasing the rate and/or force of heart contraction.

When arteries show plaque buildup or blockage, medical procedures such as Carotid Endarterectomy, also called carotid artery surgery, is a procedure in which blood vessel blockage (fatty plaque) is surgically removed from the carotid artery. Angioplasty/Stents Doctors sometimes use balloon angioplasty and implantable steel screens called stents to treat cardiovascular disease and help open up the blocked blood vessel.