As a stroke survivor, you have two goals: Recover from the one you’ve had, and prevent another from occurring. Both are entirely possible. Start by believing and embracing that, and you’ll put yourself on a positive path to wellness.
Recovering from a stroke takes determination, strength and emotional support.
Keep in mind, however, that you still have a lot to work with: The brain contains 100 billion neurons — nerve cells that contain and transmit the information that makes your body function — and a typical stroke kills just 2 percent of them.
Reduce your chances of a second stroke by 65 percent by getting your cholesterol and blood pressure to optimal levels (HDL cholesterol over 50; LDL cholesterol under 70; triglycerides under 150; blood pressure less than 120/80), says a 2009 study.
Your brain can continue to learn — that is, activate those neurons and build new pathways between them, so that info (and you) keeps moving — for as long as you keep teaching it. Feed your brain well and challenge it with new tasks and it will continue to develop.
Prevention: Get with the Program
The best way to prevent a second stroke: Adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle. That means quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a diet that’s low in saturated fat and high in fruits, nuts and vegetables, and getting moderate exercise for 30 minutes most days of the week.