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How Can a Stroke Be Prevented?

Taking action to control your risk factors can help prevent or delay a stroke. If you’ve already had a stroke, these actions can help prevent another one.

  • Don’t smoke. If you smoke or use tobacco, quit. Smoking can damage and tighten blood vessels and raise your risk of stroke. Talk with your doctor about programs and products that can help you quit. Also, try to avoid secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke also can damage the blood vessels.
  • Make healthy eating choices. A healthy diet includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It also includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, and fat-free or low-fat milk or milk products. A healthy diet is low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium (salt), and added sugars.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. If you're overweight or obese, work with your doctor to create a reasonable weight-loss plan. Controlling your weight helps you control stroke risk factors.
  • Be as physically active as you can. Physical activity can improve your fitness level and your health. Talk with your doctor about what types and amounts of activity are safe for you.
  • Know your family history of stroke. If you or someone in your family has had a stroke, be sure to tell your doctor.

For more information about healthy lifestyle changes, go to “How Is a Stroke Treated?” If lifestyle changes are not enough, you also may need medicines to control your stroke risk factors. Take all of your medicines as your doctor prescribes.

If you’ve had a transient ischemic attack (TIA), don’t ignore it. It’s important for your doctor to find the cause of the TIA so you can take steps to prevent a stroke.

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March 26, 2014