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 is also aimed at other factors that put you at risk, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. But it takes more than just your doctor's efforts. You also have an important role to play in preventing stroke. It's up to you to make lifestyle changes that can lower your risk.
Recovering after a stroke may feel like a daunting task. Among other things, your brain must relearn skills it lost when it was damaged by the stroke.
Recent research, though, shows that the brain is amazingly resilient and capable of adapting after a stroke. This means that recovery is more possible than previously thought.
Recovering use of your arm does bring special challenges, though -- different than those experienced with the leg, says Susan Ryerson PT, ScD, owner of Making Progress, a physical...
A stroke can be a devastating experience. Surviving it can be a powerful motivation to make lasting positive changes in your life. Take charge of your future by following these recommendations.
Prescription for Recurrent Stroke Prevention
Antiplatelet drugs and anticoagulants are medicines that can help reduce the risk of a second ischemic stroke. These medicines interfere with the blood's clotting action so that clots can't form and cause a stroke. Aspirin is one of the most common, most effective, and least expensive types of antiplatelet medication.
There are several types of blood thinners available, and your doctor will choose one based on your medical history, your health conditions, and the potential for side effects. For example, people with a bleeding disorder may not be able to take aspirin.
When you use these medications, it's important to take them as prescribed. Even if you've taken aspirin in the past for pain relief, do not take more than your doctor recommends. Also, ask about potential interactions. For instance, the most commonly used anticoagulant, warfarin, can be affected by other drugs and by foods, such as green leafy vegetables, which are high in vitamin K.
Know Your Numbers: Keep Blood Pressure Low
High blood pressure exerts continuous pressure on the walls of the arteries. If it is left untreated, it damages and weakens your arteries, making them more likely to clog or burst and cause a stroke. Hypertension is the biggest contributing risk factor to stroke.