Please note: This information was current at the time of publication. But medical information is always changing, and some information given here may be out of date. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit, the AAFP patient education website.

Information from Your Family Doctor

Preventing Another Stroke: What You Should Know


Am Fam Physician. 2007 Aug 1;76(3):389.

  See related article on stroke.

What is a stroke?

A stroke happens when an area of the brain is damaged, this usually happens when blood does not reach certain parts of the brain. You can lose function in the parts of your body that are controlled by that part of the brain. For example, you may not be able to move an arm or a leg, or you may have trouble speaking. Each stroke you have can lead to more physical problems, and even death.

Who has strokes?

Strokes can happen in people who have high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol. People who smoke, drink more than one alcoholic drink a day, or are obese are more likely to have a stroke. If you have already had a stroke, you are at higher risk of having another one.

How can I tell if I have had a stroke?

A change in your speech, tingling in your skin, or weakness of your muscles may be signs of a stroke. These symptoms can happen quickly.

How can I prevent a stroke?

  • Exercise for 30 minutes a day for most days of the week if recommended by your doctor.

  • Stop smoking.

  • Don't drink more than one alcoholic drink a day.

  • Work with your doctor to control your blood pressure, cholesterol, or diabetes.

  • Some medicines can prevent another stroke. Ask your doctor if you should be taking these types of medicines.

Where can I get more information?

Your doctor

American Stroke Foundation

Web site:

Telephone: 1-866-549-1776

National Stroke Association

Web site:

Telephone: 1-800-STROKES (1-800-787-6537)

National Women's Health Information Center

Web site:

Telephone: 1-800-994-9662

American Stroke Association

Web site:

Telephone: 1-888-4STROKE (1-888-478-7653)

This handout is provided to you by your family doctor and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other health-related information is available from the AAFP online at

This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.


Copyright © 2007 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP. Contact for copyright questions and/or permission requests.

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