If you've had a stroke, if one of your loved ones has had a stroke or if you're caring for someone who has had a stroke, it can be extremely challenging to return to a normal way of life. You might be left with more questions that answers. How long will it take to recover? Will you be able to function the same? What will you need help with and how can you get that help? Accepting help can be challenging for any independent adult.
No matter where you are in your stroke recovery, you can focus on making healthy lifestyle changes to better support heart health and prevent another stroke. Your emotional health is just as important as your physical health and can promote or disrupt your recovery. Healthy living — following a nutritious diet, getting enough sleep and practicing self-care — can help reduce depression, which is common after a stroke.
During your stroke recovery, your physician will help you develop a healthy eating and exercise plan, and will alert you to any medical interventions that might be necessary. Here's what those plans might look like.
What to Eat
A post-stroke diet is quite similar to a heart-healthy diet, because the narrowed and blocked blood vessels symptomatic of heart disease are often the underlying cause of a stroke. A heart-healthy diet focuses on fresh, unprocessed foods; it should include a minimum of five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, two servings of whole grains, and lean protein choices such as chicken, eggs, fish, almonds or pulses.
While pickles are a staple in most Indian meals, it's important to avoid preserved foods during stroke recovery. In general, you'll want to avoid salty, sugary and fatty foods, and stay away from alcohol.
Meal preparation might also be an issue after your stroke. If you live alone, enlist your family or friends to help you prepare meals. If your loved ones are not available to provide assistance, let the food come to you. There are community resources in almost all areas to help with meal deliveries, and there are subscription services that can deliver ready-to-cook meals to you. You can ask your doctor about these services.
Depending on how the stroke has affected your swallowing and eating abilities, you might need to modify the texture of your diet. A speech therapist or dietician help find the proper texture of food to prevent choking or overcome other eating challenges.
How to Exercise
Exercise has many benefits for stroke recovery. Physical activity helps maintain brain and heart health, according to Harvard Health, by controlling your blood sugar and lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol. It also reduces depression and anxiety associated with the physical and emotional changes after a stroke.
Gaining back your independence and physical abilities can be a challenge after a stroke. Exercise can help with that by improving your balance and coordination, Telegraph India reports. Before you start an exercise regimen, ask your doctor what is best for you. And start slow; your physical therapist can help guide you toward the best exercises to match your ability. That could include short walks or bike rides, or some gentle yoga.
Although lifestyle changes are important, it's crucial to communicate with your doctor after a stroke. Your doctor can set forth a plan tailored to the underlying cause of your stroke to help prevent future ones. A stroke rehabilitation program can help you cope with the many aftereffects of a stroke, and those who participate in rehabilitation programs, the Mayo Clinic says, tend to perform better following a stroke than those who rehabilitate in other ways.
Medical options, including medications and implantable devices, can also help reduce the risk of another stroke.
The winning stroke recovery combination includes medical treatment, regular communication with your doctor, and lifestyle changes. When you include all three, you'll be well on your way to returning to a normal, healthy life.
Disclaimer: This publication/article/editorial is meant for awareness/educational purposes and does not constitute or imply an endorsement, sponsorship or recommendation of any products. Please consult your doctor/healthcare practitioner before starting any diet, medication or exercise.