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Understanding Stroke -- Prevention

How Can I Prevent a Stroke?

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.

A few other tips to prevent stroke:

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  • 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.
  • Exercise.
  • 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.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on March 09, 2014
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