Lifestyle Changes to Manage Stroke
Part of your stroke treatment will include lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of having another stroke.
Extensive research has established smoking as a risk factor for stroke and heart attack. If you smoke, you will need to quit.
A diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables will help lower cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and body weight-three stroke risk factors. Ask your health care provider or a registered dietitian for a balanced meal plan.
Follow your doctor's recommendations for physical activity. Choose exercises that are safe for you, and that you will enjoy and make a regular part of your day. Strive to maintain an exercise program that keeps you fit and at a healthy weight. For most people, this could include walking briskly or participating in another aerobic activity for at least 30 minutes per day. However, consult your doctor before starting an exercise program.
Being overweight or obese is associated with higher risk of stroke, and losing weight lowers that risk. To lose weight, consume fewer calories than you expend. To maintain a healthy weight, eat an equal number of calories as you expend.
Excessive alcohol intake raises your risk of stroke, but it appears that moderate alcohol intake actually reduces the risk. Studies suggest that one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men can be beneficial to the cardiovascular system. Experts agree that if you do not already drink alcohol, you don't need to start because of this recommendation. If you do drink alcohol, talk with your health care provider to determine how much is healthy for you.
If you have diabetes you are at increased risk of vascular disease. The tighter you control your blood sugar levels, the slower vascular disease (and other complications) will advance. Work with your doctor and a registered dietitian to develop a diet and exercise plan that will help you control your blood sugar.
American Heart Association
The European Aspirin Foundation
Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 14th ed. McGraw-Hill;1998.
The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence
Last reviewed November 2003 by Andrew Wilner, MD, FACP
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Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.