The most important treatable factors linked to transient ischemic attacks (TIA) and stroke are high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, heart disease, carotid artery disease and diabetes. Medical help is available to reduce and eliminate these factors. Lifestyle changes such as eating a balanced diet, maintaining healthy weight, exercising, and enrolling in smoking cessation programs can also reduce these factors.
High Blood Pressure
- Maintain your proper weight.
- Avoid drugs known to raise blood pressure.
- Cut down on salt.
- Eat fruits and vegetables to increase potassium in your diet.
- Exercise more.
Your doctor may prescribe medicines that help lower blood pressure. Controlling blood pressure will also help you avoid heart disease, diabetes, and kidney failure.
Your doctor can recommend programs and medications that may help you quit smoking. By quitting, at any age, you also reduce your risk of lung disease, heart disease and a number of cancers, including lung cancer.
Your doctor will treat your heart disease and may also prescribe medication, such as aspirin, to help prevent the formation of clots. Surgery may be recommended to clean out a clogged neck artery, if you match a particular risk profile. If you are over 50, you and your doctor should make a decision about aspirin therapy. A doctor can evaluate your risk factors and help you decide if you will benefit from aspirin or other blood-thinning therapy.
Warning Signs or History of Stroke
If you experience a TIA, dial 911 immediately. If you have had a stroke in the past, it's important to reduce your risk of a second stroke. Your brain helps you recover from a stroke by drawing on body systems that now do double duty. That means a second stroke can be twice as bad.
You may think this disorder affects only the body's ability to use sugar or glucose. But it also causes destructive changes in the blood vessels throughout the body, including the brain. Also, if blood glucose levels are high at the time of a stroke, then brain damage is usually more severe and extensive than when blood glucose is well controlled. Treating diabetes can delay the onset of complications that increase the risk of stroke.