Did you know that according to the American Stroke Association, 1 in 4 stroke survivors have another stroke at some point? The risk of a second stroke is highest in the first few days following the stroke, however there is an elevated risk of having a second stroke for the first three months following a stroke. Additionally, some studies suggest that the risk of a second stroke can be present for up to 5 years after the first stroke.
In most cases, the causes of the first stroke are also the cause of the second stroke. Common causes of stroke include:
- High Blood Pressure: uncontrollable high blood pressure levels can double your stroke risk
- High Cholesterol: causes plaque to accumulate inside the arteries, which limits the amount of blood flow to the brain
- Diabetes: high blood sugar damages blood vessels and increases the risk of blood clot formation
- Smoking: causes the blood to thicken and also leads to plaque accumulation in the arteries
- Obesity: increases your risk of stroke by being linked to diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure
- Cardiac Abnormalities: atrial fibrillation is an irregular, quivering heartbeat that forms blood clots in the heart. These blood clots eventually make their way to the brain and can cause a stroke.
Since there is a chance that you can suffer a second stroke, if you have had a stroke it is important to take preventative measures in order to reduce your risk. Additionally, keep in mind that the cause of your first stroke will likely be the cause of a second stroke, therefore specific preventative measures may need to be taken. Here are some things you can do to prevent a second stroke:
Practice Healthy Lifestyle Habits
This is probably one of the most important things you can do after a stroke to prevent a second stroke. Practicing healthy lifestyle habits includes eating a balanced diet, getting enough exercise and sleep, and eliminating unhealthy habits such as smoking or excessive drinking. Implementing healthy habits into your lifestyle offers a variety of benefits that will increase your quality of life in many areas.
Manage Key Risks
If you have a medical condition such as atrial fibrillation, diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol, you will need to manage this condition as best as possible. In some cases this can mean taking certain medications or making specific lifestyle changes. Depending on your individual medical history, your doctor can help provide advice.
When it comes to your diet, decrease the amount of salt, saturated fats, and trans fats. Instead work on consuming more fiber and foods high in omega-3s. You will also want to watch the amount of sugar and carbohydrates you consume. Finally, be sure you are following the appropriate daily calorie intake. This number is generally less than 2,000 calories per day, however your doctor can help determine your specific number.
It is recommended that you get at least 2.5 hours of aerobic exercise per week. Aerobic exercises refers to any type of exercise that increases your heart rate. There are different varieties of exercise that you can choose from.
Dr. Kashouty, a diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN), practices general neurology with fellowship trained specialization in clinical neurophysiology. Dr. Kashouty finds the form and function of the nerves and muscles the most interesting part of neurology, which is what led him to specialize in neurophysiology with more emphasis on neuromuscular conditions. He treats all neurological diseases, but his main focus is to treat and manage headaches, movement disorders and neuromuscular diseases.