If you have previously experienced a stroke, chances of having another one are quite high. Research shows that 1 in 4 people who have had an ischemic stroke (clot-related stroke) will experience another one. To learn more about ischemic stroke and other types of stroke, read in our article “What is a stroke?“. To prevent another stroke, you will usually require treatment for other health conditions that are stroke risk factors, improve your lifestyle as well as participate in a rehabilitation program.

Use of medications to prevent another stroke

Some patients may need to take blood thinners such as anticoagulants or antiplatelets. Anticoagulants such as heparin or warfarin (also called Coumadin) prevent blood from clotting. However antiplatelets (such as aspirin) prevent platelets from sticking together to form a clot. Even though they are both blood thinners, they are used for different purposes. It is very important to take these medications in appropriate doses. Enough such that blood clots won’t form yet not too much not to cause bleeding. Consult with your doctor to find out whether you might need blood thinning medications after experiencing a stroke.

You might also need them to control other health conditions that are stroke risk factors. To learn more about stroke risk factors and causes, read in our article “What causes a stroke?“. These medications might interfere with other medications, vitamins, certain foods and alcohol. Therefore, it is important to disclose to your doctor what other substances you are using before starting with blood thinners.

Not taking your medications is an important risk factor for experiencing another stroke. According to one study in patients with coronary artery disease, patients who took 75 percent or less of their prescribed medications had a four times higher risk of stroke than patients who took their medications as necessary. Even if you are feeling better, it is important to control and manage your stroke risk factors. Do not reduce or stop taking your medications without consulting with your doctor.

Healthy lifestyle, diet and stress reduction

Besides the medical factors that cause a stroke, lifestyle factors are very important as well. To learn more about stroke prevention, read in our article “What can help prevent a stroke?“. If you have experienced a stroke, it is very important to evaluate your lifestyle, habits and prioritize your health. It can be done with a healthy diet, getting rid of unhealthy habits, physical activities and others.

There are several studies that show “Mediterranean diet” to be a stroke risk reduction factor and a suitable diet for those who have experienced a stroke. Because a stroke may often cause muscular and digestive issues, Mediterranean diet that is light yet nutritious is a good choice for a stroke survivor. It includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, lean meats and other products that help reduce cholesterol levels and potential inflammation. If you do not wish to follow a certain diet, it would be important to at least follow the aforementioned principles and avoid salty foods, red meat, fried foods and saturated fats that raise cholesterol levels.

Another stroke causing factor is stress. Stress is a factor that may provoke countless diseases and health problems, including a stroke. Recovery from a stroke can also be a stressful event since you might deal with financial uncertainties, inability to work or worries about your own health. It is important to follow self-care practices such that stress doesn’t affect your health and cause another stroke or disease. You might want to try breathing exercises, meditation, spend time in fresh air or perform other pleasant, peaceful activities. In case you are experiencing constant stress or anxiety, consult with your doctor.

Specialized rehabilitation programs

If possible, it might be a good option to participate in a rehabilitation program that not only focuses on regaining lost functions, but also educates about health improvement and helps minimize the possibility of experiencing another stroke. On top of the physical rehabilitation exercises, these programs help a patient adopt a healthy lifestyle with nutrition and exercise plans, as well as manage aforementioned health conditions and unhealthy habits. If this is a resource available in your country, it might be worth looking into. To learn about the different rehabilitation options, read in our article “What are the options for stroke rehabilitation?

In general, to prevent another stroke it is recommended to follow the same measures to prevent a stroke in general. However, often times lifestyle changes and health improvement are prioritized only after experiencing certain health problems. If you have already experienced a stroke, it is even more important now to follow the guidelines for stroke prevention and manage risk factors. As mentioned before, 75% of ischemic stroke cases could be avoided by controlling high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, treating diabetes and heart conditions, living a healthy lifestyle and taking medications as prescribed.