Lifestyle changes may help prevent a stroke:
- Avoid fatty foods. Follow a healthy, low-fat diet.
- Do not drink more than 1 to 2 alcoholic drinks a day.
- Exercise regularly: 30 minutes a day if you are not overweight; 60-90 minutes a day if you are overweight.
- Quit smoking.
- Get your blood pressure checked every 1-2 years, especially if high blood pressure runs in your family. If you have high blood pressure, heart disease, or have had stroke, you need to have it checked were often. Ask your doctor.
- Everyone should keep their blood pressure below 140/90 mmHg.
- If you have diabetes or have had a stroke, your blood pressure should probably be less than 130/80 mm/Hg. Ask your doctor what it should be.
- Have your cholesterol checked and treated.
- Adults should have their cholesterol checked every 5 years. If you are being treated for high cholesterol, you will need it checked more often.
- If you are have diabetes, heart disease, or hardening of the arteries, your LDL "bad" cholesterol should be lower than 70 mg/dL.
- Follow your doctor's treatment recommendations if you have high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease.
Your doctor may suggest taking aspirin or another drug called clopidogrel (Plavix) to help prevent blood clots from forming in your arteries or your heart. These medicines are called antiplatelet drugs. DO NOT take aspirin without talking to your doctor first. Your doctor may suggest using one of these drugs:
- To prevent a first stroke in women over 65 who are at risk for a stroke
- After a stroke, often combined with a drug called dipyridamole
- If you have had a transient ischemic attach (TIA) or stroke in the past
- If you have heart failure or an irregular heart beat (such as atrial fibrillation)
Warfarin (Coumadin), an anticoagulant (“blood thinner”) drug, may be used to prevent strokes if you have:
- Atrial fibrillation
- An artificial (man-made) heart valve
A neurointerventional procedure called carotid stenting or a type of surgery called carotid endarterectomy may help prevent new strokes from occurring in persons with large blockages in their neck arteries.