Preventing Stroke: Control Medical Conditions

A woman speaking with her health care provider.

Talk with your doctor about steps you can take to lower your risk for stroke.

If you have heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes you can take steps to lower your risk for stroke.

Check Cholesterol

Your doctor should test your cholesterol levels at least once every 5 years. Talk with your health care team about this simple blood test. If you have high cholesterol, medicine and lifestyle changes can help lower your risk for stroke.

Control Blood Pressure

High blood pressure usually has no symptoms, so be sure to have it checked on a regular basis. Talk to your health care team about how often you should check your levels. You can check your blood pressure at home, at a doctor’s office, or at a pharmacy.

If you have high blood pressure, your doctor might prescribe medicine, suggest some changes in your lifestyle, or recommend you to choose foods with lower sodium (salt).

Control Diabetes

If your doctor thinks you have symptoms of diabetes, he or she may recommend that you get tested. If you have diabetes, check your blood sugar levels regularly. Talk with your health care team about treatment options. Your doctor may recommend certain lifestyle changes, such as getting more physical activity or choosing healthier foods. These actions will help keep your blood sugar under good control and help lower your risk for stroke.

Treat Heart Disease

If you have certain heart conditions, such as coronary artery disease atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat), your health care team may recommend medical treatment or surgery. Taking care of heart problems can help prevent stroke.

Take Your Medicine

If you take medicine to treat heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes, follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. Always ask questions if you don’t understand something. Never stop taking your medicine without first talking to your doctor or pharmacist.

Work with Your Health Care Team

You and your health care team can work together to prevent or treat the medical conditions that lead to stroke. Discuss your treatment plan regularly, and bring a list of questions to your appointments.

If you’ve already had a stroke or TIA, your health care team will work with you to prevent further strokes. Your treatment plan will include medicine or surgery and lifestyle changes to lower your risk for another stroke. Be sure to take your medicine as directed and follow your doctor’s instructions.