Having a stroke or a mini-stroke often means that something is wrong with your blood vessels. No matter how hard you work at recovery, there will always be some chance that you are going to have a stroke again. Recognizing your risk is the first step to staying healthy. But, did you know there are steps you can take to actively reduce your own risk? There are stroke prevention guidelines that can help.
Stroke guidelines for every audience
In October 2016, the Intercollegiate Stroke Working Party came out with their National clinical guideline for stroke. This informative overview covers everything we know about stroke today! This includes acute care, rehabilitation, and prevention. It’s a free resource you can access online at www.strokeaudit.org.uk. You can find an elaborate medical version for clinicians and also a fun version for patients.
Prevent another stroke by knowing your risks
If you had a stroke, you doctor will run a number of tests to see what medical conditions can be improved. And if you experienced a mini-stroke, your doctor will help assess your risk by using the ABCD2 score. This scoring system accounts for your age, symptoms, and medical history to give you a personalized risk quote.
These tests are important to understanding what measures you need to take to help you avoid another stroke. The higher the risk, the more aggressive your prevention needs to be.
It’s time for a lifestyle change
There are many ways you can reduce your risk. One of them is to change your lifestyle. Obesity, alcohol intake, and tobacco use are all associated with an increased risk of stroke. Thus, regularly exercising, avoiding tobacco, and limiting alcohol can help reduce your stroke risk. It’s also helpful to eat a healthy diet low in saturated fat and salt.
Watch this short video to get more tips to improve your diet
Take care of your medical conditions!
There are some simple measurements you should keep track of that can give you insights into your risk for a stroke. Monitoring these conditions can help you keep them under control and help you avoid another stroke.
Monitoring your blood pressure, for example, is important. High blood pressure increases your risk of another stroke. Every stroke survivor should keep their systolic blood pressure below 130. Systolic pressure is the higher number of the two that you see whenever you get your pressure checked. It’s also a good idea to check your pressure regularly. You can do this easily free of charge at any drug store or fire station!
High cholesterol is another factor that increases your stroke risk. Statin drugs can help lower blood cholesterol and are powerful in reducing both stroke and cardiovascular risk.
Some stroke survivors suffer from abnormal heart rhythm. Before leaving the hospital, all patients should get their pulse checked to see if they suffer from this condition. Having an irregular rhythm puts you at significant risk for stroke and needs to be treated. Irregular rhythm is treated with blood thinners to prevent any clots that could cause a stroke.
Many stroke patients have blood vessel disease putting them at risk for clots. Therefore, most stroke patients get blood thinners to prevent blood clotting. Aspirin or Clopidogrel are popular options that help. These preventative drugs should be given within 24 hours of having a stroke.
The key to successful prevention is knowing where your risks lie and then using these guidelines to help. Taking these recommended preventative measures can reduce your risk of a second stroke!
The lead author of this resource is Anthony George Rudd, the National Clinical Director for Stroke with National Health Service (NHS) England and the London Stroke Clinical Director, London, United Kingdom.