Lifestyle Changes After a Stroke

Taking action today to control your risk factors can reduce your risk or possibly prevent a stroke from happening. Small lifestyle changes can help prevent your first stroke or lower your risk of having another one.

What you can do

  • Get regular exercise. Physical activity can improve your health and fitness in general, lowering your risk of contributing factors to stroke such as high blood pressure and obesity. A minimum of 150 minutes of moderate physical activity is the recommended weekly amount.
  • Don’t smoke. While you’re likely already aware of many of the health risks of smoking, you might not know that smoking damages and tightens blood vessels, increasing your risk of stroke. Exposure to second-hand smoke can put you at risk as well. If you smoke, ask your physician about programs and products that can help you quit.
  • Minimize alcohol consumption. Ask your doctor when it would be safe to start drinking alcohol again.
  • Keep your weight under control. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for stroke. Work with your physician to create a reasonable weight loss plan through diet and exercise.
  • Lower your cholesterol. One step you can take to lower your cholesterol is eating foods that are considered heart healthy, and following the Mediterranean diet.
  • Manage stress. Learning how to cope with stress is important. Ask your physician about finding techniques to lower your stress levels.
  • Improve your nutrition. Eat more whole foods; avoid processed foods, sugar and salt; reduce your fat intake; and eat poultry or fish instead of red meat.
  • Care for your mental health. Your care team can connect you with professional help when necessary, so be sure to share these concerns openly.
  • Control your blood pressure. High blood pressure is one of the most common causes of stroke. One way to lower your blood pressure is to limit your consumption of alcohol.
  • Control your blood sugar levels if you have diabetes.
  • Talk to your physician. In addition to lifestyle changes you can make on your own, you can also speak to your physician about other ways to prevent stroke. You may benefit from taking aspirin to help prevent your first stroke. It is also important to discover if you have atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat that can increase your risk of stroke.