Lifestyle & Management
We can go a long way towards a healthy, active future by modifying stroke risk factors. A healthy lifestyle based on a low-salt, low-fat diet and 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise—along with taking prescribed medications—is the best way to prevent another stroke down the road.
Quitting the habit will reduce a person’s risk of stroke dramatically. Indeed, once a smoker has not smoked for 5 years, their stroke risk returns to that of a nonsmoker.
High blood pressure should be monitored regularly. A low-salt, low-fat diet and regular moderate exercise will help control high blood pressure.
Lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels can be achieved by taking prescribed medicines (if needed) and eating a healthy diet low in saturated fats and high in fruits and vegetables, fiber, and healthy oils.
A healthy diet and exercise plan to help manage diabetes will lower the risk of stroke and increase the benefits of diabetes medications.
Taking blood thinner medications such as warfarin, or direct acting oral anticoagulants (DOACs) such as rivaroxaban or apixaban, can help manage this major stroke risk. Blood thinner medications require close monitoring by a healthcare provider to prevent the risk of bleeding.
A little alcohol (such as a glass of wine with dinner) can be beneficial, but alcohol or drug abuse raises the risk of stroke.
If your healthcare provider recommends it, start a weight loss program to help reduce stroke risk.
If you are taking blood thinners after an ischemic stroke, you will have regular blood tests to make sure your blood is coagulating at the right speed. You will be monitored by a team of healthcare professionals who will check on your progress in terms of rehabilitation and reduction of risk factors.
Disabilities after a stroke are common and are often a continuation of the first symptoms. The disabilities may go away on their own, or the person may relearn lost skills through rehabilitation. Sometimes, however, the disabilities are permanent.
Stroke patients may experience:
- Paralysis or weakness of some muscles, often only on one side of the body or face. This may result in more falls and general loss of mobility.
- Problems with talking or swallowing.
- Memory loss, confusion, difficulty understanding concepts, dementia.
- Sensory changes, including pain for no reason (central stroke pain or central pain syndrome), numbness, tingling, abnormal reactions to temperature changes.
- Depression, behavioral, and mood changes including withdrawal from social life, difficulty looking after daily self-care, malnutrition.
Caregiver and Family Assistance
- Focus on skills that have been recovered rather than disabilities after a stroke.
- Try to be patient and give yourself time to rest and relax.
- Continue your social and family life, even if speech or movement is difficult. Invite people over. Make your needs known. Use sign language or word cards until your speech becomes more fluent. Keep practicing.
- Join a support group.
Last Updated September 2020