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In 1998, National Stroke Association's (NSA) Prevention Advisory Board released its Stroke Prevention Guidelines. These guidelines were the first-ever national expert consensus set of recommendations on what the public can do to prevent stroke. In 1999, NSA Advisory Board is comprised of the nation's experts on stroke prevention.

Know your blood pressure. Have it checked at least annually. If it is elevated, work with your doctor to keep it under control.
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a leading cause of stroke. Have your blood pressure checked at least once each year---more often if you have a history of high blood pressure. If the higher number (your systolic blood pressure), is consistently above 130 or if the lower number (your diastolic blood pressure) is consistently over 85, consult your doctor. If your doctor confirms that you have high blood pressure, he/she may recommend changes in your diet, regular exercise, and possibly medication.

Find out if you have atrial fibrillation (AF). If you have AF, work with your doctor to manage it.
Atrial filbrillation (AF) can cause blood to collect in the chambers of your heart. This blood can form clots and cause a stroke. Your doctor can diagnose AF by carefully checking your pulse. AF can be confirmed with a ECG (electrocardiogram). If you have AF, your doctor may choose to lower your risk for stroke by prescribing medications such as warfarin or aspirin .

If you smoke, stop.
Smoking doubles the risk for stroke. If you stop smoking today, your risk may be the same as that of a non-smoker. Within five years, your stroke risk may be the same as a non-smoker.

If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
Drinking up to two glasses of wine, or the alcohol equivalent, each day may actually lower the risk for stroke (provided that there is no other medical reason you should avoid alcohol). Heavy drinking increases your risk of stroke. Remember that alcohol is a drug--- it can interact with other drugs you are taking, and alcohol is harmful if taken in large doses.

Know your cholesterol number. If it is high, work with your doctor to control it.
Lowering your cholesterol may reduce your risk of stroke. Having high cholesterol can indirectly increase stroke risk by putting you at greater risk of heart disease- another important stroke risk factor. Some cholesterol-lowing medications have been shown to lower risk of stroke in some high-risk individuals. High cholesterol can be controlled in many individuals with diet and exercise; some individuals may require medication. Recent studies show that some individuals with normal cholesterol may lower their risk for stroke by taking specific medications for cholesterol.

If you are diabetic, follow your doctor's recommendations carefully to control your diabetes.
Having diabetes puts you at an increased risk for stroke. Often, diabetes may be controlled through careful attention to what you eat. Your doctor can prescribe a nutrition program, lifestyle changes and medicine that can help control your diabetes.
Include exercise in the activities you enjoy in your daily routine.

A brisk walk or other activity for as little as 30 minutes a day can improve your health in many ways, and may reduce your risk for stroke.
Try walking with a friend; this will make it more likely that you'll make it a habit. If you don't enjoy walking, choose another exercise activity that suits your lifestyle; bicycle, golf, swim, dance, play tennis or take an aerobics class.

Enjoy a lower sodium (salt), lower fat diet.
By cutting down on sodium and fat in your diet, you may be able to lower your blood pressure and, most importantly, lower your risk of stroke.

Ask your doctor if you have circulation problems which increase your risk for stroke. If so, work with your doctor to control them.
Fatty deposits-caused by atherosclerosis or other diseases- can block the arteries which carry blood from your heart to your brain. This kind of blockage, if left untreated can cause stroke. Circulation problems can usually be treated with medications. Occasionally surgery is necessary to remove the blockage.

If you see or have any stroke symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg - especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden sever headache with no known cause.