If you have had a stroke or a transient ischemic attack (TIA), you are at a higher risk of having another one. Therefore, it's important to do whatever you can do to prevent this from happening.

Stroke risk reduction can involve lifestyle modifications, medical interventions, and medications.

To minimize your risk factors for stroke, work with your doctor or other health care professionals to:

  • lower your blood pressure if it's high
  • stop smoking if you smoke
  • control your diabetes if you're diabetic
  • lower your cholesterol
  • maintain a healthy weight
  • participate in aerobic physical activities (like brisk walking or swimming) at moderate and vigorous intensity levels for at least 150 minutes each week, with at least 10 minutes per session for full benefits

Read "Stroke: risk factors" for more information about risk factors for stroke and what you can do about them.

In addition to risk factor reduction, your doctor may also suggest medical interventions and medication to reduce your risk of recurrence.

Surgery for carotid artery stenosis

One cause of stroke is narrowing at the origin of the carotid artery due to atherosclerosis (plaque buildup). In some situations, surgical repair of this artery significantly reduces the risk of another stroke occurring. The most significant benefit is seen when the carotid artery is 70% to 99% blocked, but the procedure may also be helpful if the artery is 50% to 69% blocked. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of this procedure.

Medications

Unless you have a medical condition that increases your risk of serious side effects or have allergies to them, the following medications may be recommended to help reduce your risk of having another stroke or transient ischemia attack (TIA).

Antiplatelets: Antiplatelet medications such as acetylsalicylic acid (ASA), clopidogrel, or a combination of acetylsalicylic acid and extended-release dipyridamole have been shown to reduce the risk of stroke for people who have already had a stroke or TIA. These medications work by preventing platelets, a type of blood cell, from forming blood clots. The usual recommendation is to take ASA 81 mg to 325 mg per day, clopidogrel 75 mg per day, or ASA - dipyridamole twice daily.

Anticoagulants: Anticoagulants (e.g., warfarin, nicoumalone, dabigatran) help to prevent blot clots from forming and can be used to help reduce the risk of stroke. Anticoagulants are often used to prevent stroke for people who have atrial fibrillation (a type of abnormal heart rhythm) or a mechanical heart valve.

Talk to your doctor about what you can do to reduce your risk of another stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA).

 Written and reviewed by the  MediResource Clinical Team