Having a stroke means greater risk for another (or, recurrent) stroke. The good news is that there are steps you can take to prevent a recurrent stroke. Here are the facts:
- Approximately 795,000 Americans experience a stroke each year -- about 185,000 of those strokes are recurrent strokes.
- At least 1 in 4 (25%-35%) of the 795,000 Americans who have a stroke each year will have another stroke within their lifetime.
- Within 5 years of a first stroke, the risk for another stroke can increase more than 40%.
- 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 5 years of a stroke, 24 percent of women and 42 percent of men will experience a recurrent stroke.
Watch the STARS Video!
What is STARS?
National Stroke Association developed the STARS (Steps Against Recurrent Stroke) program with support from Charitable Contributions from the Bristol-Myers Squibb/Sanofi Pharmaceuticals Partnership and Allergan, Inc. STARS is a program that focuses on educating and empowering stroke survivors about how -- with a doctor’s help and advice -- to reduce risk for a recurrent stroke by making lifestyle modifications and managing medical conditions that increase stroke risk. The program has already reached multitudes of survivors and caregivers through educational webcasts, e-mail campaigns and other materials that provide information and helpful tools about how to manage recurrent stroke. Learn more about STARS by watching the video below, downloading the free STARS brochure or contacting National Stroke Association at 1-800-STROKES.
Tips for managing recurrent stroke risk
- Stop smoking — it doubles risk for another stroke. Read more information about the importance of quitting smoking. Click here to download a fact sheet about quitting smoking.
- Manage high blood pressure, the most important risk factor for stroke. People who have high blood pressure have more than half the lifetime risk of having stroke compared to those who consistently have optimal blood pressure reading of 120/80. Read more information about how to manage high blood pressure. Download a high blood pressure brochure.
- Manage high cholesterol — cholesterol or plaque build-up in the arteries can block normal blood flow to the brain and cause a stroke and increase risk of heart disease. Read more information about how to manage cholesterol levels. Download a cholesterol brochure.
- Keep diabetes under control — people with diabetes are up to 4 times as likely to have a stroke as someone who does not have the disease. Read more about how to control your diabetes. Download a fact sheet about diabetes and stroke risk.
- Manage atrial fibrillation (AF), a type of irregular heartbeat. AF increases your stroke risk 5 times, so it’s important to work with a doctor to control it. Read more about AF. Download an AF fact sheet.
- Eat a healthy diet — maintaining a diet low in calories, saturated and trans fats and cholesterol helps manage both obesity and healthy cholesterol levels in the blood, which also reduces risk for stroke. Read more about how to eat healthy. Download a healthy eating fact sheet.
- Increase physical activity — it reduces stroke risk. A recent study showed that people who exercise five or more times per week are less likely to have another stroke. Read more tips for how to incorporate physical exercise into your daily routine.
- Control alcohol use — some studies say that drinking more than 2 drinks per day may increase stroke risk by 50 percent. Other studies have indicated that one alcoholic beverage a day may lower a person’s risk for stroke, provided that there is no other medical reason for avoiding alcohol. Talk with a doctor about alcohol use and how it can best be controlled to prevent another stroke. Read more about how alcohol use is linked to stroke.
Remember: the most important first step to controlling risk for recurrent stroke is to follow a doctor’s advice. Don’t stop taking medicine unless a doctor advises it. Discuss the risk factors listed above with a doctor to determine personal risk levels. Then, learn how to control and manage those risk factors. Nobody has to have another stroke -- take steps toward a preventive lifestyle.
Coming up next… with STARS!
More survivors, caregivers and stroke care providers, including discharge planners and case managers can receive free education tips through an archived version of a September 2009 webcast titled STARS: Developing Effective Education Strategies for Survivors and the STARS Plus program, which is a patient transition pilot program that promotes information and tools for better adherence to risk factor management strategies to prevent recurrent stroke from hospital discharge through the first year after stroke.
Download the STARS brochure for free now! It includes helpful information on simple lifestyle changes that can greatly reduce your chance of stroke, including: lowering your blood pressure, exercising, changing your diet, and taking the right medications.
To get more information on the STARS program, contact National Stroke Association at 1-800-STROKES.