After a stroke, you will have to make changes to adapt to the future. You may need to change your home, arrange for care, and make lifestyle changes.
A stroke can change your life in many ways. You may need to get extra care for the short or long term. Your family and friends can help you and give you support.
You may need to make changes that let you to function better. Think about:
It is common to have mood changes in the first few months after a stroke. Depression can get in the way of your recovery and put you at risk for heart problems and death. Call your doctor if you have feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest in activities that stay with you for at least 2 weeks. There are many ways to treat this, such as medicine and therapy.
You will also need to take steps to improve your heart health and prevent other strokes. When you have a stroke, the risk for another one is higher. Making changes can help lower that risk. You should also focus on changes that will improve your quality of life and overall well being.
Smoking can raise the amount of fatty buildup in your arteries. This can block blood flow to the brain. Nicotine can narrow blood vessels and raise your heart rate and blood pressure. It can also decrease the oxygen in your blood. If you keep smoking after your first stroke, your chance of having second one is higher. When you quit, your risk of drops to that of a nonsmoker within 5 years.
Secondhand smoke is also a risk to your health. Ask people not to smoke in your home or car, and stay away from places where people smoke.
A dietlow in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol, and rich in whole grains, fruits, and veggies will help lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and body weight. These are 3 stroke risk factors. You should also add fish to your diet at least twice per week. They contain omega-3 fatty acids. Talk to your doctor about whether you should take supplements.
Think about talking to a dietitian who can help you with meal planning.
After a stroke, follow your doctor’s advice about working out. Choose exercises that you enjoy and that are safe for you. Try to stick to an exercise program that keeps you fit and at a healthy weight. For most people, this could mean walking briskly or doing another aerobic activity for at least 30 minutes each day.
If you have had a stroke, or have a history silent strokes or transient ischemic attacks (TIA), try to exercise for at least 30 minutes 1 to 3 times each week. If you are in a rehabilitation program, talk to your doctor or physical therapist first.
Obesity is puts a person at a higher risk for stroke. Losing as little as 10 pounds can lower that risk by a lot. To lose weight, focus on a balanced diet with whole foods and workout often. Talk to your doctor about which diets or activities may be right for you. If you have trouble, talk with a dietitian who can help you plan meals and snacks. To lose weight you will have to eat fewer calories than you burn.
If you have any other health problems, such as diabetes or hypertension, follow your treatment plan. Taking any prescribed medicines can help lower the risk of more strokes. If you have questions or problems following your plan, talk to your doctor.
Too much alcohol raises your risk of stroke. Limiting alcohol may reduce the risk. It may lower the risk of heart attack. You do not have to start drinking to get the small benefits of alcohol. Moderate drinking is 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men. One drink is 12 ounces of beer or 4 ounces of wine or 1 ounce of 100-proof spirits. Alcohol may get in the way of medicines you take.
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Stroke. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/stroke. Accessed January 16, 2019.
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Last reviewed December 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review BoardRimas Lukas, MD Last Updated: 1/16/2019