How Do I Prevent a Second (or Third) Stroke?

Every year, about 795,000 people experience a stroke. Of these, approximately 185,000 are recurrent strokes, meaning that they are experienced by individuals who have previously had one or more strokes.

If you’ve already had a stroke, you’re at greater risk to have another. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to prevent a recurrent stroke.

The most important ways to prevent recurrent strokes are to make lifestyle changes, manage medical conditions and listen to your doctor’s advice.

How to manage recurrent stroke risk:

  • Manage high blood pressure. High blood pressure (hypertension) is a factor in 70 percent of all strokes. Work with your doctor to monitor your blood pressure, and strive for a blood pressure reading of 120/80.
  • Stop smoking! Smoking doubles your risk of having another stroke.
  • Control your diabetes. People with diabetes are up to four times more likely to have a stroke.
  • Manage high cholesterol. High cholesterol causes build up in your arteries, which can block blood flow to the brain and cause a stroke.
  • Get active! Studies have shown that people who are active and exercise on a regular basis are less likely to have another stroke.
  • Eat healthier. By eating healthy, you can control your weight (obesity is another risk factor for recurrent stroke) and keep your cholesterol down.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation. Prolonged alcohol use is a risk factor for stroke. If you are drinking too much, talk with your doctor about managing your alcohol intake.

The best thing you can do to prevent a recurrent stroke is to follow your doctor’s advice. Your doctor can help you develop a specific plan to handle each of the risk factors noted above.

Statistics don’t lie. At least 25 percent of stroke survivors will have another stroke at some point in their lifetime, and recurrent strokes have a higher rate of death and disability.

Don’t let another stroke happen to you. Take charge of your life now!

Source of statistics noted above: American Association of Neuroscience Nurses, Volume 42, Number 3, June 2010:  Community Stroke Prevention Programs:  An Overview.  Author:  Elizabeth Kozub

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