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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.

General Guidelines for Preventing Another Stroke

If You Smoke, Quit
Extensive research has established smoking 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.
Eat a Healthy Diet
A dietlow in saturated fat , trans fat, and cholesterol, and rich in whole grains , fruits, and vegetables will help lower cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and body weight—three stroke risk factors. Ask your doctor or dietitian for a balanced meal plan.
Exercise Regularly
Follow your doctor’s recommendations for physical activity. Choose enjoyable exercises that are safe for you. Strive to maintain an exercise program 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.
Lose Weight, If You Are Overweight or Obese
Being overweight or obese 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.
Drink Alcohol Only in Moderation
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.
Treat High Blood Pressure
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.
Treat High Cholesterol
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, Manage Blood Sugar Levels
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.

References

American College of Physicians, American Stroke Association. ACP special report: reducing your risk of stroke. American College of Physicians website. Available at: http://www.acponline.org/patients%5Ffamilies/pdfs/health/stroke.pdf . Accessed February 4, 2010.

American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.americanheart.org/ .

The Aspirin Foundation website. Available at: http://www.aspirin-foundation.com/ .

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: http://stroke.ahajournals.org/cgi/reprint/STR.0b013e3181f7d043v1 . 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: http://www.ncaddnj.org/ .

Stroke risk factors and symptoms. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/stroke/stroke%5Fbookmark.htm . Accessed February 4, 2010.

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