If you or someone you know has suffered from a stroke then it is very important that you read this article because there are things that you can do to prevent having another one. People who suffer from stroke explain it as being one of the most terrifying if not the most terrifying experience in their life and nothing is worse than having another one. This article is aimed at giving you user-friendly information on how you can prevent having a stroke.
Probably the best place to start is by describing what a stroke is. One has a stroke when the blood supply to a part of the brain is restricted for a period of time. Because the brain needs to be supplied with blood like everywhere else in the body, when it gets blocked off the tissue that is not being supplied will die. There is a kind of mini stroke that can also occur called a transient ischemic attack or TIA and this is where the blood supply is cut off for a shorter period of time and the tissue does not die. However this is a very serious warning sign that something needs to be done. People who are over 75 years of age are at the greatest risk, but your risk increases if you have high blood pressure, problems with your heart or if you have diabetes.
Having a stroke or TIA is considered very serious by the medical team and they will probably have put you onto some medications to help prevent another. These medications are very important and you absolutely must take them as it says on the bottle, even though you may not feel that they are doing anything. Some of the pills you are likely to be on will be to lower your blood pressure and these may even be useful if you didn’t have high blood pressure in the first place. Some of the more common types of blood pressure lowering medication are ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, diuretics and calcium channel blockers. There is another type of medication that you should definitely be on known as a statin, which lowers your cholesterol. Once again you should be on this medication even if you blood pressure was not high to begin with. Statins are quite safe to take life long and the only real complaint is that some people get muscle aches. You should get blood tests every so often as statins can have a negative effect on the liver, but then so can alcohol. Aspirin or a similar anti-clotting medication such as clopidogrel and dipyridamole may be used to further decrease your risk of stroke. The only side effect of these medications is that they stop your blood from being able to clot and so you need to be careful if you cut yourself because the bleeding may be hard to stop. However the benefits of taking these medications are shown to certainly outweigh the risks.
There is actually a type of surgery that can be done in some people to reduce ther risk of stroke. This operation is known as a carotid endarterectomy, this will get rid of fatty build up in the blood vessels of your neck, which can actually be responsible for stroke in a number of people. This is a major operation and will only be done if absolutely necessary, but if your surgeon thinks that you would benefit from it then it is certainly worth considering. Another type of operation is called carotid angioplasty and is where the surgeon goes through a vein and works his way up to the neck vessels with a catheter that has a balloon attached to it. When the balloon is in the correct position he will blow it up and this can get rid of blockages in these vessels.
If your heart rate is not in a normal rhythm and your doctor has said that you have atrial fibrillation then instead of aspirin you will need to be on a medication called warfarin. This medication stops the blood from clotting and stops clots from getting up to your brain and causing a stroke. The problem with abnormal heart rhythms is that blood sits in the heart for longer as it is not pushed out properly and when blood sits still it forms clots. Just like aspirin this medication will make you bleed much more easily and so you need to be much more careful. Also warfarin has a very specific level in your blood that it needs to be in order to work properly and keep you safe and so it is very important that you have regular blood tests to check this level.
Lifestyle changes are one of the most important things that you can do to prevent you from having another stroke. You need to make changes that will lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Things that you can do are to STOP SMOKING if you are silly enough to do this in the first place. You need to be at a healthy weight as being overweight makes it more likely that you will have another stroke. You should exercise for at least 30 minutes everyday and eat a healthy diet with at least five serving of fruit and vegetables daily. You should never eat butter, animal fat and avoid salt. Try not to drink much alcohol and keep any existing medical conditions that you may have well under control. Obviously there are some big changes here to be made in your life. This can be hard but there is no better motivation to do this than the thought of avoiding another stroke. You should talk to other people who have suffered from stroke and see how they have made changes to their lives. There are lots of stroke support groups out there and your health provider will happily provide information and point you in the right direction if you pay them a visit.