Accessible Search Form           Advanced Search


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.

Rate This Content:

previous topic next topic
Stroke Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. To find clinical trials that are currently underway for Stroke, visit

Stroke in the News

October 18, 2013
Women’s Health Initiative reaffirms use of short-term hormone replacement therapy for younger women
Investigators from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) Hormone Trials are reaffirming conclusions that hormone therapy is not recommended for the prevention of chronic disease, but may remain a reasonable option for the short-term management of menopausal symptoms for younger women. Investigators reached this conclusion after reviewing data from the trial and the extended post-trial follow up period.

View all Stroke Press Releases

March 26, 2014 Last Updated Icon

The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.