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Stroke health centre

Stroke, prevention - What increases the risk of a second stroke?

BMJ Group Medical Reference

Introduction

If you've had a stroke, you may be worried about having another one. But there are treatments that can lower your risk.

The treatments we talk about here are used to prevent a second stroke for people who've had a stroke or mini-stroke before. To read more, see What treatments work for preventing another stroke?

Stroke is a medical emergency, and someone who has a stroke will need urgent treatment as soon as possible after the symptoms start. To read about emergency treatments, and to find out more about what strokes are and how they happen, see our information on Stroke, emergency care.

We've brought together the best research and weighed up the evidence about how to prevent strokes. You can use our information to talk to your doctor and decide which treatments will work best for you.

If you've had a stroke or a mini-stroke, you're at risk of having another one. Your doctor will probably want to know your stroke risk, because this helps determine what treatment you need.

If you've had a mini-stroke, your risk of having a full-blown stroke is highest in the first few days and weeks afterwards.[1] It's very important to get treatment as soon as you can after a mini-stroke. Urgent treatment can stop you going on to have a stroke.[2]

You're also more likely to have a stroke if you:

The more of these that apply, the more likely you are to have a stroke. For example, if you're 80, have already had two strokes, and have high blood pressure, your doctor may say you are at high risk of having another stroke.

Glossary

atrial fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation happens when your heart beats in an uneven or irregular way. Normally the beating of your heart is controlled by electrical signals. The signals make the upper parts of your heart (the atria) squeeze blood into the lower parts, which then squeeze blood out into your blood vessels. If you have atrial fibrillation, the electrical signal doesn't work well, so the upper parts of your heart don't beat at the right time.

diabetes

Diabetes is a condition that causes too much sugar (glucose) to circulate in the blood. It happens when the body stops making a hormone called insulin (type 1 diabetes) or when insulin stops working (type 2 diabetes).

heart failure

When the heart loses its ability to push enough blood through the blood vessels, it is called heart failure.

high blood pressure

Your blood pressure is considered to be high when it is above the accepted normal range. The usual limit for normal blood pressure is 140/90. If either the first (systolic) number is above 140 or the lower (diastolic) number is above 90, a person is considered to have high blood pressure. Doctors sometimes call high blood pressure 'hypertension'.

mini-stroke

When the supply of blood to a part of your brain is blocked off for a short time, but not long enough to cause permanent damage, it's called a mini-stroke. Doctors call it a transient ischaemic attack (or TIA for short). A mini-stroke can make you lose control of one side of your body, or you may lose the sight in one eye. But these problems go away within 24 hours.

For more terms related to Stroke, prevention

Citations

For references related to Stroke, prevention click here.
Last Updated: June 21, 2012
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.
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