Being Informed on care after a stroke is the best strategy for prevention.
After your first stroke you’ll want to do all you can to prevent another. Developing healthy habits will give you the best chance to do so. The CDC has several tips on healthy living that can help you. Among these are having a healthy diet, healthy weight, exercise, limiting alcohol and smoking.
Obesity is a primary cause of strokes. Eating foods low in salt and fat lower your blood pressure, which in turn lowers your risk for a stroke. Being informed about food choices and eating foods that help you stay at a healthy weight will also reduce your risk.
Exercise is a great way to lose weight or even to maintain a healthy weight. You can achieve a healthy weight and lower your cholesterol levels by consistently exercising. This will help you feel better overall reducing your stress levels. Work with your doctor or physical therapist to find exercises that work best for you and fit your physical ability.
Risk factors that can increase your chance for another stroke include uncontrolled blood pressure, atrial fibrillation (afib), diabetes, and coronary artery disease (CAD). According to a study published in 2021. Being informed of these risk factors will help you be aware of how to prevent a stroke.
High Blood Pressure
You may have heard that high blood pressure is a silent killer. This is because people do not track it regularly and inconsistently take their medication. Your high blood pressure can spiral out of control without you knowing. Reach out to your doctor if you notice a rise in your blood pressure and take appropriate steps to stop the problem before it gets worse and puts you at risk.
Atrial fibrillation (afib)
Afib is an abnormal heartbeat where the heart pumps irregularly. When the heart is in afib, it increases your risk for forming a blood clot that can be sent to your brain causing a stroke. If you have a history of afib it is important to get regular checkups to look at how your heart is beating and to regulate any blood thinners you may be on. Your doctor will monitor your afib by doing an electrocardiogram. If you have been prescribed medications for afib, make sure to take them as directed.
Diabetes can also cause a stroke. Over time high blood sugar cause damage to the inside of your blood vessels. This damage causes clots to form which will travel to your brain which shuts down the blood supply and causes a stroke. If you have diabetes, it is important to keep your sugar within the prescribed range of 100-125. Checking your blood sugar regularly and taking your medication as prescribed helps to prevent you from having a stroke. Consult your doctor if you are having trouble keeping your blood sugars within the prescribe range so they can adjust your medications to help you.
Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary Artery disease (CAD) is the narrowing of arteries that carry blood from the heart to the brain. Narrowing of the vessels happens because of a buildup of fat on the inside of the blood vessel which decreases the blood flow and can launch clumps of fat into the brain. Strokes can be prevented by decreasing your blood cholesterol level by taking a medication called a “statin”.
- Every day you take a statin is every day you will not have a stroke.
- This makes it really important to follow your doctor’s plan.
Take all prescribed medications as directed.
Following Your Health Plan after a Stroke
If you have a stroke, make sure you make it to every follow-up appointment once you have been discharged from the hospital. You may have been referred to physical or occupational therapy to help with your recovery. If you have a loss of strength or feeling after a stroke, these therapies will help you regain it. While having reduced feeling or coordination is frustrating, occupational and physical therapist can help you adapt to near normal.
Following up with the specialist you have been referred to like a heart doctor, neurologist, or your primary care physician. It is not uncommon to feel overwhelmed with keeping track of so many appointments. Reach out to your primary care doctor if you need help, they have resources that can help you.
It is also helpful to create a list of questions to ask your health care providers before your appointment. Keeping an updated list of questions and concerns will help you to be becoming informed about your health. Remember, you are not alone. Every member of your health care team wants you to be well.
By being informed and following these tips, along with your doctor’s advice, will give you the best chance to live a long healthy life after a stroke. It can be scary; it can also be stressful. You have many tools at your fingertips ready to assist in your recovery, including your health care team who are happy to answer any questions you have related to your care.
7 things you can do to prevent a stroke – Harvard Health. Retrieved September 30, 2021, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/8-things-you-can-do-to-prevent-a-stroke
Carotid Artery Disease (Carotid Artery Stenosis): Treatments. Retrieved September 30, 2021, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/16845-carotid-artery-disease-carotid-artery-stenosis
Primary Care of Adult Patients After Stroke: A Scientific Statement. Retrieved September 30, 2021, from https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/STR.0000000000000382