The latest statistics show that stroke is the primary cause of disability and the third leading cause of death for people older than 65 years. Annually, nearly 200,000 of the 700,000 strokes reported in the US are recurrent, and one-third of those people who survive a stroke are likely to experience a second stroke within the first five years. Research shows that prevention of a first or second stroke is possible by identifying and intervening around modifiable stroke risk factors including hypertension, abnormal cholesterol panels, diabetes mellitus, physical inactivity, obesity, alcohol consumption, and smoking.

One of the most prevalent stroke risk factors is hypertension. Controlling blood pressure (BP) is an efficacious strategy to prevent future strokes. Achieving hypertension control relies on medication management and important lifestyles modifications including physical activity, stress management, weight loss, smoking cessation and dietary changes.

Moreover, stroke survivors may be at high risk for a recurrent stroke due to the impact of continued, unhealthy lifestyles choices and practices.

Take charge of your blood pressure by following these steps:

  • Be aware that your target BP should be less than 140/90 and you should be monitoring your blood pressure regularly.
  • Communication with your physician and adherence to his/her medication regime for you is essential.
  • You should rely on your own body and symptoms- do not overlook your body ?telling? you something, even minor symptoms like ?a little light-headed? feeling or something of that nature.
  • Learn about what diet modifications are best for you to control your pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • Stay active and include daily exercise, even a brisk walk, into your routine.
  • Learn how to reduce stress in your life- whether it is work, family, finance related. If a stroke survivor, you may even have stress from worrying about the fear of disability and subsequent strokes. Seek help from your physician, clergy or other healthcare professionals in identifying ways to relax.