Stroke Prevention

Erin Boespflug, Ph.D., talking with a patient
Erin Boespflug, Ph.D., is one of the many researchers at the OHSU Brain Institute seeking ways to improve care for patients with stroke and other brain illnesses.

Stroke can be prevented. You can’t change risk factors such as your age, ethnicity or family history. But you can reduce your risk by up to 40% by making lifestyle changes.

Control blood pressure

High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke and the most important risk factor to control. Blood pressure for adults should be no more than 120 over 80. Here’s what you can do: 

  • Eat lots of fruit and vegetables.
  • Avoid salt, cholesterol, and saturated and trans fats. 
  • Manage stress. 
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Take blood pressure medication as prescribed. 
  • Check your blood pressure regularly.
  • Manage your weight.

Resources

Stop smoking

OHSU’s Dr. Holly Hinson
Dr. Holly Hinson is a neurologist and researcher who studies stroke and other brain conditions.

Smoking increases your risk of stroke and heart disease, no matter your age, weight or blood pressure.

Smoking thickens your blood, contributes to plaque buildup in your arteries, and makes it easier for clots to form. 

Your risk drops as soon as you quit, though. In time, it becomes about the same as if you never smoked. Tips:

  • Set a date to quit.
  • Take stop-smoking medication your doctor recommends.
  • Get help from friends, family and your doctor or other health care provider.

Control cholesterol

Cholesterol, a fatlike substance carried in your blood, is used to make hormones and other cells. It comes in two forms: 

LDL cholesterol: This type (“bad cholesterol”) increases your risk of stroke by building up in arteries. This buildup can reduce or block blood flow to your brain. 
HDL cholesterol: This type (“good cholesterol”) carries harmful LDL cholesterol away from your arteries and to your liver, which removes it. 

Tips to manage your cholesterol:

  • Cut down on foods that are high in saturated fats and cholesterol. These include fatty meats, dairy products, shellfish, and fats such as butter, margarine and lard.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and fatty fish such as tuna and salmon.
  • Get your cholesterol checked regularly. 

Resources

Diet

A healthy diet can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, and help you lose weight.

  • Eat more fruit, vegetables, cereals, dried peas and beans, pasta, fish, poultry and lean meats.
  • Cut down on salt, saturated fat, trans fats and sugar.
  • Know your dietary needs, especially if you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes.

Resources

Exercise

Exercise can help lower blood pressure, manage weight and reduce stress. 

  • Start slowly. Ask your doctor what moderate activity means for you.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park a block or two from your destination. 
  • Build up to 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at a time, five days a week or more.

Resources

Other

  • Alcohol: Stop or reduce your drinking. Women should have no more than one drink a day, men no more than two. 
  • Control diabetes: Learn about steps you can take.
  • Medication: Talk with your doctor about whether medication such as aspirin or an anticoagulant is appropriate.
  • Atrial fibrillation: Learn if you have this heart condition, which increases risk of stroke.
  • Artery disease: Seek treatment for disorders such as atherosclerosis or carotid artery disease

More resources

For patients

  • Call 911 now if you or someone else may be having a stroke.
  • Referral: To become a patient, please ask your doctor for a referral.
  • Questions: For questions or follow-up appointments, call 503-494-7772.

Location

Parking is free for patients and their visitors.

OHSU Stroke Program clinic
Hatfield Research Center, 13th floor
3251 S.W. Sam Jackson Park Road
Map and directions

Refer a patient

Patient resources