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Breaking old habits can be hard. But when your health is at stake, it’s never too late to make changes for the better. Some lifestyle changes might be easy for you. Others might be tough. So if you need help, talk with your doctor, family, or friends.
Stop smoking. If you smoke, the time to quit is now! There’s no more time for excuses. Smoking raises blood pressure and damages arteries—both of which can lead to a stroke. To stop smoking, ask your doctor for help. Join a stop-smoking program. Make a list of reasons to quit and read it daily.
Limit alcohol. Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure and increase the risk of stroke. Alcohol can also react with certain medications. Ask your doctor if it’s safe for you to drink alcohol.
Get support. A stroke can leave you feeling frustrated or depressed. Don’t ignore your feelings, but don’t dwell on them either. Focus on what you can do. Talking to family, friends, your doctor, or clergy can also help.
Reduce stress. Stress can make your heart work harder and raise blood pressure. To reduce stress, try to let go of daily annoyances. Ask yourself if problems will still matter a week from now. Getting proper rest can also help. Finally, don’t be embarrassed to ask for help when you need it.
One of the most important things you can do to prevent another stroke is to keep your blood pressure under control. If you have high blood pressure:
Take all your medications as directed.
Get regular exercise.
Talk with your doctor about limiting fat and salt in your diet.
Check your blood pressure regularly. Write down your numbers and bring them to checkups with your doctor.
Strokes are often closely related to certain health problems. These include high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. If you have any of these conditions, it’s more important than ever to keep them under control. Do this by taking any prescribed medications and having regular checkups. Keep in mind, too, that the same healthy lifestyle choices that prevent stroke will also help control these health problems.
It’s much harder for your loved one to make lifestyle changes if he or she is feeling low. So be on the lookout for sadness, depression, or hopelessness. These feelings are not uncommon after a stroke. Talk to the doctor if you have concerns.