A stroke is like a heart attack in your brain.

Strokes can be prevented.




Controlling chronic diseases may also reduce your risk of stroke.

  • Controlling high blood pressure (hypertension). Exercising, managing stress, maintaining a healthy weight, and limiting the amount of sodium and alcohol you eat and drink are all ways to keep high blood pressure in check. Medicines may also be used to treat high blood pressure.
  • Lowering the amount of cholesterol and fat in your diet. Eating less cholesterol and fat, especially saturated fat and trans fats, may reduce the fatty deposits (plaques) in your arteries. Medicines may also be used to treat high cholesterol.
  • Controlling diabetes. You can manage diabetes with diet, exercise, weight control and medication.
  • Treating obstructive sleep apnea, if present. Your doctor may recommend an overnight oxygen assessment to screen for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). If OSA is detected, it may be treated by giving you oxygen at night or having you wear a small device in your mouth.
  • Controlling HIV. HIV increases the inflammation in your body and raises the risks of stroke. Keep HIV controlled with medications to reduce this risk factor for stroke.



Stroke Prevention

Strokes happen when the blood flow to the brain is disrupted. Usually this happens when a clot or a cholesterol plaque breaks off and floats into a smaller blood vessel where it blocks the flow and cuts off oxygen transport to part of the brain (ischemic stroke). It may also happen when high blood pressure causes a blood vessel to break open and spill blood into the brain (hemorrhagic stroke).


Many stroke prevention strategies are the same as strategies to prevent heart disease. In general, healthy lifestyle recommendations include:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight. If you are overweight, weight loss of as little as 10 pounds may lower your blood pressure and improve your cholesterol levels.



  • Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. A diet containing five or more daily servings of fruits or vegetables may reduce your risk of stroke. The Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes olive oil, fruit, nuts, vegetables and whole grains.
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  • Exercising regularly. Aerobic or "cardio" exercise reduces your risk of stroke in many ways. Exercise can lower your blood pressure, increase your level of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and improve the overall health of your blood vessels and heart. It also helps you lose weight, control diabetes and reduce stress. Gradually work up to 30 minutes of activity — such as walking, jogging, swimming or bicycling — on most, if not all, days of the week.

    • Avoiding illicit drugs. Certain street drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamines, are established risk factors for a TIA or a stroke. Cocaine reduces blood flow and can cause narrowing of arteries.




    • Quitting tobacco use. Smoking greatly increases your risk of stroke. Quitting immediately lowers your risk of stroke.


     Drinking alcohol in moderation, if at all. Alcohol can be both a risk factor and a protective measure for stroke. Heavy alcohol consumption increases your risk of high blood pressure, ischemic strokes and hemorrhagic strokes. However, drinking small to moderate amounts of alcohol, such as one drink a day, may help prevent ischemic stroke and decrease your blood's clotting tendency. Alcohol may also interact with other drugs you're taking.