Tips for Managing Recurrent Stroke
Once we have determined the causes of your first stroke, it is important to address these risk factors and gain control so that you can take an active role in preventing recurring stroke. Some of the strategies our team will discuss with you may include:
- Stop smoking – Smoking doubles risk for another stroke.
- Manage high blood pressure – High blood pressure is the most important modifiable risk factor for stroke.
- Take medications – Taking your medications as prescribed is critical to recovery and preventing recurrent strokes.
- Manage high cholesterol – Cholesterol or plaque build-up in the arteries can block normal flow to the brain and cause a stroke, and increase the risk of heart disease.
- Keep diabetes under control – People with diabetes are up to four times as likely to have a stroke as someone who does not have the disease.
- Manage atrial fibrillation – Afib, a type of irregular heartbeat, increases your stroke risk five times, so it is important to work with a healthcare professional to control it.
- Eat a healthy diet – Maintaining a diet low in calories, trans-fats, saturated fats and cholesterol helps manage both obesity and healthy cholesterol levels in the blood, which also reduces risk for stroke.
- Increase physical activity – A recent study showed that people who exercise five or more times per week are less likely to have another stroke
- Control alcohol use – Some studies say that drinking more than 2 drinks per day may increase stroke risk by 50%. Talk to our staff about alcohol use and how it can best be controlled to prevent another stroke.
Things to watch for/When to call your doctor
Life can change a great deal after having a stroke, and we want to be here to support you along the road to recovery. There will be situations when you might want to reach out for more guidance. Generally, these break down into these categories:
- You may experience new symptoms that might be caused by stroke.
- You may experience similar or identical symptoms to your original stroke.
- Your persistent neurologic deficits or symptoms may worsen.
- You may develop some new symptoms that are not likely to be caused by a stroke.
- You may have general questions about medications, test results, ways of improving your health, etc.
Generally, if you experience new stroke symptoms, call 911 and get to our Emergency Department by ambulance as soon as possible! We know you here and have your records, and the ambulance can call ahead to notify our team so that we’re ready when you arrive. Every minute counts when saving the brain, so don’t wait!
If you experience similar or identical symptoms to your original stroke, this may be triggered by another illness: an infection, being dehydrated, having low blood sugar, being stressed, etc. In these cases, it is still important to undergo a medical evaluation at the Emergency Department.
If your prior symptoms or deficits are worsening, it would be worth calling our Stroke Coordinator (617-636-5848) who can then reach out to our Stroke physicians and nurses. In some cases, we may suggest that you be evaluated in the clinic sooner than scheduled or undergo some tests.
If you develop new symptoms that are not likely to be related to your stroke, then it would be worth discussing this with both your primary care physician and us. Please do call us at our clinic (617-636-5848) and leave a message with our Administrative Assistant who can then pass along the message to our Stroke physicians and nurses.
If you have general questions that are non-urgent and can wait until the clinic appointment, write down the questions and bring them to your appointment. Otherwise, if the questions are more time-sensitive, call us at the Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases Clinic (617-636-5848) and we will try to return your call as soon as possible.