Those who have had one stroke are at a high risk of another stroke, but you may be able to significantly improve those odds by making important lifestyle changes. Talk to your doctor about the kinds of health conditions or lifestyle choices that place you at a higher risk for stroke and start implementing medically-guided steps to improve them.
Some medical conditions that increase your stroke risk:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Heart disease
- Abnormal heart rhythm
- Sickle cell disease
- History of TIAs
Some lifestyle choices that increase your stroke risk:
- Oral contraceptives
- Lack of exercise
- Excessive alcohol use
- Substance abuse
- Geographic region
Some risk factors you won’t be able to change; for instance, over the age of 55, your risk of a stroke doubles each decade. Your race and gender also play into the risk, with African Americans and men being more prone to stroke than others. However, there are some things you can do.
Medical and lifestyle changes
Start by talking to your doctor about decreasing or eliminating the medical factors over which you may have control, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Be rigorous in your control of diabetes. Stop smoking. Stop all use of drugs that have not been prescribed by a qualified physician for your medical health.
If your family has a history of stroke, try to find out what factor runs throughout most cases. Some families have a tendency toward high blood pressure. If you can get that under control, you may be able to beat the family “curse.”
There tends to be a higher incidence of stroke during extreme temperatures. While it may be a big step to consider a move, living in a healthier climate might be a positive step for you.
The same advice for decreasing the risk of another stroke is given for decreasing risks of most health problems: eat a healthy diet, get plenty of sunshine (vitamin D!) and exercise, and get plenty of good sleep. Regular exercise and a healthy diet, based on the advice of your healthcare professionals, will help strengthen your blood vessels and lower your cholesterol and blood pressure. It can also help control your diabetes and help you lose weight.
Carefully watch your sodium intake, which has a powerful effect on blood pressure for some people. Limit alcohol – more than one alcoholic serving per day for women or two for men can increase blood pressure. Keep your mind active and interact with people who make you happy. Help others. All these lifestyle choices decrease stress on your body and on your emotions, which will decrease your risk of stroke.
But does your risk remain?
Because you’ve already had a stroke, some heightened risk will remain. While stroke patients are usually only monitored for 3-6 months, a study out of Canada shows that the increased risk persists for up to 5 years – the full course of their study.
Consider a medical monitor that will inform healthcare professionals if another stroke is coming on. Because virtually all stroke victims will experience some weakness on one side of the body, evaluating asymmetrical movement is the most effective method for determining possible stroke onset.
Neuralert Technologies combines a unique, non-invasive wristband with a state-of-the-art patented algorithm developed by the University of Pennsylvania to detect asymmetry in your arm movement, one of the initial indications of stroke onset. The algorithm mathematically models out other causes of asymmetry, such as hand dominance, eating, or speaking on the phone, thereby detecting only true anomalies in asymmetric patterns. Neuralert then immediately sends an alert to designated medical personnel.
More and more hospitals are partnering with Neuralert to decrease the risk of long-term damage from stroke. Ask your hospital or your doctor about using Neuralert as a safety net in case you experience a second stroke.