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Stroke Smart Magazine

July/August 2008

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Steps Against Recurrent Stroke: Take Preemptive Action

By Colette LaFosse, M.S.G.

It may happen while you are in the hospital or rehabilitation, or when you are recovering at home you start to wonder, “Could this happen again?”

Upsetting but true, the statistics do show that you are at greater risk for another stroke:

  • About 780,000 Americans experience a stroke each year, and at least 1 in four will have another stroke within their lifetime.
  • Within five years of your first stroke, your risk for another stroke can increase more than 40 percent.
  • Recurrent strokes often have a higher rate of death and disability because parts of the brain already injured by the original stroke may not be as resilient.
  • Within five years of a stroke, 24 percent of women and 42 percent of men will experience a recurrent stroke.

The good news is that there is so much you can do to prevent another stroke. Up to 80 percent of strokes are preventable. So educate yourself and take action!

Did You Know?

  • Keeping your blood pressure below 120/80 is one of the most important things you can do to prevent another stroke.
  • Maintaining cholesterol levels of 200 or below is considered necessary.
  • Taking prescribed medicines and following your doctor’s orders are important even if you feel good now.
  • Relieving stress through activities such as walking, meditation, journaling or art is a creative and enjoyable way to lower your risk for another stroke.
  • Eating healthy can help you reduce blood pressure, cholesterol, manage your diabetes and keep up your energy level for therapy, exercise and activities.
  • If you have atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat, work with your doctor to control it.
  • Having a yearly check-up with your “stroke doctor” can help you maintain your health and catch any problems early on.

To help reduce their risk for a recurrent stroke, many stroke survivors take medicine prescribed by their doctors. Two commonly prescribed drugs are Aggrenox® and Plavix®. On May 14th, the results from the first head to-head comparison of these two blood thinner drugs were released. PRoFESS® (Prevention Regimen For Effectively avoiding Second Strokes) is the largest study ever done on secondary stroke prevention.

The primary question posed in the clinical trial was: Which blood thinner drug is better at preventing recurrent stroke, Plavix® or Aggrenox®? The answer: there is no clear winner. Only your doctor can know for sure which drugs are best for you. If you have questions about any of your medicines, ask your doctor.

For more information on National Stroke Association’s Steps Against Recurrent Stroke (STARS) Campaign go to: www.stroke.org/stars or call (800) STROKES (800-787-6537).


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National Stroke Association’s mission is to reduce the incidence and impact of stroke by developing compelling education and programs focused on prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and support for all impacted by stroke.

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