How to prevent another stroke?

Dr. Carlo Oller

— If you had an ischemic stroke – a stroke caused by a blocked artery in the brain – medicines and lifestyle changes can help to lower the chances of having another stroke. If you had a transient ischemic attack or “TIA,” these same things can help prevent a full-blown stroke.

Medicines and lifestyle changes work together to give the most benefit. It’s very important that you take all the medicines your doctor prescribes. It’s just as important to make the lifestyle changes your doctor recommends.

Medicines — If you had a stroke or TIA, your doctor or nurse will prescribe medicines to lower your risk of having another stroke. Some of these medicines work by “lowering your risk factors.” That means that they help lower blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol. Other medicines help by keeping blood clots from forming. (Blood clots cause many strokes.)

Medicines that are especially important in preventing strokes include:

●Medicines to lower blood pressure

●Medicines called statins, which lower cholesterol

●Medicines to prevent blood clots, such aspirin or blood thinners

●Medicines that help to keep your blood sugar as close to normal as possible (if you have diabetes)

Whatever medicines your doctor prescribes, make sure you take them every day as directed. If you cannot afford your medicines or if they cause side effects, talk to your doctor or nurse. There are often ways to deal with these problems.

Lifestyle changes 

— Lifestyle changes can do a lot to lower your risk of stroke. That’s partly because the right lifestyle choices can help control risk factors such as blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol. Besides, the lifestyle changes that help lower your risk of stroke can also help prevent lots of other health problems.

Here are the most important lifestyle changes:

●Stop smoking, if you smoke

●Get regular exercise (if your doctor says it’s safe) for at least 30 minutes a day on most days of the week

●Lose weight, if you are overweight

●Eat a “Mediterranean” diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products, and low in meats, sweets, and refined grains (such as white bread or white rice)

●Eat less salt (sodium)

●Limit the amount of alcohol you drink

•If you are a woman, do not drink more than 1 drink a day

•If you are a man, do not drink more than 1 to 2 drinks a day

Help with quitting smoking — If you smoke, ask your doctor or nurse about how to quit. There are strategies and medicines that can improve your chances of success. Studies show that people are most successful at quitting if they take medicines to help them quit and work with a counselor. You might also have a better chance at success if you combine nicotine replacement with one of the prescription medicines that help people quit.

You can also get help from a free phone line (1-800-QUIT-NOW) or online at

  • Dr. Carlo Oller (emergency physician with has put together more than 1800 FREE patient education videos which can be found at
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