Measures that reduce the chances of stroke are the same as those for avoiding a heart attack. Adopt habits that promote cardiovascular health and deter atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). The essentials of a healthy lifestyle include a balanced diet; controlling weight; monitoring blood pressure and cholesterol levels; limiting alcohol; and not smoking.
If you've had a stroke, preventing a second stroke is a top priority. "The risk of a stroke is tenfold higher in someone who has had a stroke in the past," says Larry B. Goldstein, MD, professor of medicine (neurology) and director of the Duke Stroke Center in Durham, N.C.
Prevention of a second stroke starts by addressing conditions that caused the first stroke, such as atrial fibrillation (an abnormal heart rhythm that can cause blood to clot) or narrowing of a carotid artery in the neck. Treatment...
Get appropriate medical treatment of atrial fibrillation. This heart arrhythmia can increase the risk of stroke.
Get treated for sleep apnea, if you have it.
Learn stress management techniques.
Control your diabetes, if you have it.
Limit alcohol use.
If your risk of stroke is high because of severe atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, or a history of heart disease, or previous strokes -- you should see a doctor regularly. Your doctor may advise taking an aspirin a day to thin blood and prevent the formation of blood clots.
For people who have partial obstruction of a carotid artery -- the artery in the neck that provides blood supply to the brain -- a surgery called a carotid endarterectomy may be an option to prevent a stroke or TIA. This procedure involves the removal of fat and plaque buildup from these arteries.
If diagnosed early, because of warning signs of a problem, a carotid aneurysm can be repaired, preventing a possible stroke.