New Guidelines for Stroke Prevention
American Stroke Association Highlights Ways People Can Lower Their Risk of Stroke
WebMD News Archive
Lowering Stroke Risk
The new report reiterated some well-known steps that people can take to
lower their stroke risk, including:
- Knowing your blood pressure and keeping high blood pressure
- Not smoking and avoiding exposure to secondhand smoke
- Getting regular physical exercise
- Aggressively treating disorders that increase stroke risk, such as diabetes, irregular
heartbeat, carotid artery disease, and heart failure
- Treating diabetes patients with statins to lower "bad"
- Increasing potassium in the diet to at least 4.7 grams a day and reducing
sodium intake to 2.3 grams or less to help lower blood pressure in people with
- A referral to be considered for genetic counseling for people with rare
genetic causes of stroke
More Who Might Be at Risk
Sleep-disordered breathing, such as in sleep apnea, also appears to increase
stroke risk. This suspected link led to the recommendation that people with
excessive daytime sleepiness and who may snore loudly each night be evaluated
for the condition and get treatment if they have it.
"We know that treating sleep apnea is associated with a
reduction of blood pressure," Goldstein says. "And although we don't
have direct evidence that (treatment) will reduce stroke risk, the feeling is
that it will. But that is not yet supported by randomized trials."
Other prevention efforts that may reduce stroke risk include:
- Limiting alcohol consumption to no more than two drinks a day if you are a
man and one drink a day if you are a woman. Avoiding illicit drug use.
- Taking low-dose aspirin if you are a woman at high risk for stroke. Aspirin
has been shown to reduce heart attack risk in men, but
the stroke data are less conclusive. No one should take aspirin for prevention
without first discussing it with their doctor, however.
- Postmenopausal hormone therapy should not be used for prevention of
The Importance of Quick Action
If you think you are having a stroke or someone around you is, call 911
immediately, not your doctor, Goldstein says.
Time is critical, and the quicker a stroke victim gets to a hospital the
better his or her chances of surviving and recovering.