One stroke is a difficult occurrence to face, but many stroke survivors find that they end up having secondary strokes. Often, these strokes are more severe and can take more functioning away. Fortunately, you can prevent a secondary stroke by following the orders that your doctor has given you. If you ignore healthy suggestions, then the possibility of a secondary stroke is very high. Usually, it is unhealthy living that leads to a stroke in the first place, and by learning how to take care of yourself better, you can prevent further damage.
If you’ve had an ischemic stroke, or a stroke caused by a clot, you are more likely to have a secondary stroke. Those who have had hemorrhagic strokes are not as at risk because a bleed in the brain is not likely to happen again. However, ignoring your blood pressure can lead to small bleeds in the brain that can lead to secondary strokes. You should be concerned about secondary strokes because they are so common. Take the time to talk to your doctor about the rate of secondary strokes and what actions you can take to prevent them.
Failure to Control Blood Pressure and Cholesterol
Blood pressure and cholesterol are usually the two culprits that led to the stroke in the first place. Keeping your blood pressure under control is your first step in preventing a secondary stroke. You will likely be given medications to help control your blood pressure, and it is important to take these as directed. In addition, you should also follow dietary restrictions that impact your blood pressure, such as eating a low sodium diet. The DASH diet is a great way to control your blood pressure by eating foods that are unlikely to cause it to get out of control. Exercise is another way to lower your pressure.
You really need to pay attention to your cholesterol post stroke. If you don’t, this can lead to the plaques building up on the walls of your arteries again, putting you at risk for secondary stroke and heart attack. Again, there are many medications your doctor will give you to control your cholesterol, and it is important to take them every day as directed. This is another condition that can be affected by diet and exercise. If you eat a low fat diet, you can help the medications keep your cholesterol low, avoiding a secondary stroke. You should also engage in some form of exercise to keep your cholesterol in check.
Mismanagement of Coumadin
Coumadin, also called warfarin, is the primary medication that is going to help prevent a secondary stroke. Although it is called a blood thinner, it actually alters the chemistry in your blood to prevent it from clotting easily. When you don’t have clots, then you don’t run the risk of a secondary stroke. You have to be careful, though, because Coumadin is a powerful medication, and it takes some maintenance to ensure that it is working properly. Maintaining your Coumadin levels is essential in keeping you healthy and preventing another stroke.
With this medication, you need to get your blood tested at least once per month, though it could be as often as once per week during the adjustment phase. The main number that doctors are concerned with is the INR, and this is usually therapeutic at 2.5 to 3.5. However, some doctors prefer to keep the metric in a different range, so your experience may differ. When the number is too low, you run the risk of clots. When the number is too high, you run the risk of a bleeding event. This can occur in your brain, causing another stroke, or it can occur in your intestines, causing a tremendous loss of blood. Often, the dosing for Coumadin will be variable and complicated. It is important to know exactly what dose you are on, how to recognize the signs of bleeding, and when you need to get your blood tested.
Other High Risk Conditions
Stroke can occur with other high risk diseases. For instance, diabetes can make you more susceptible to a stroke. For this reason, it is important to keep your diabetes in check if you want to prevent a secondary stroke. That means keeping your daily blood sugars and your A1Cs as therapeutic as possible. Another issue that can lead to a secondary stroke is a past history of a heart attack. This means that your body has already had a bad clot once, and it is more likely to have another clot that can go to the brain. You need to regulate your Coumadin to prevent this.
Smoking is another risk factor for stroke. If you have trouble quitting, you should talk to your doctor about possible ways he or she can help you stop. There are medications that can assist you, and you don’t have to quit smoking cold turkey. Atrial fibrillation, or afib, can cause clots, and these can lead to strokes. Some medications can control afib, but this is another case of controlling your Coumadin levels. Finally, a history of clots anywhere, such as a clot in the leg or in the lungs, can put your at more risk for having a secondary stroke.