Once you’ve had a transient ischemic attack, life as you know it will never be the same — but there are five measures you can take to regain power over your life.
Some people who’ve had a transient ischemic attack don’t make a big deal and just go right on resuming the unhealthy lifestyle that caused the “mini-stroke” in the first place.
On the other hand, there are those of you who are petrified of getting another TIA, who live in constant fear, even though you’re now on a prescription blood thinner and have even made improvements in your diet.
Five Things TIA Patients Can Do to Conquer the Fear
BLOOD PRESSURE CONTROL – EVEN IF IT’S ALREADY NORMAL
Do you have a home blood pressure cuff? If not, get one. Take your blood pressure every day. If your doctor wants you on a blood pressure drug, take it.
By keeping your blood pressure in the normal range, you’ve eliminated a risk factor for stroke and TIA that’s seven-fold.
“In patients with mini-stroke or TIA, blood pressure is the highest impact culprit in the majority,” says Atif Zafar, MD, medical director of St. Michaels Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, and former director of the stroke program at University of New Mexico Hospital.
Dr. Zafar explains, “Aiming to bring BP under control based on patient’s age, typically less than 130/85 in most patients, is of utmost importance.
“I always tell my patients to focus on their salt intake and exercise regimen.”
• Attend free blood pressure screenings.
• Avoid tobacco.
• Drink only sparingly.
• Maintain a medically accepted body weight for your height.
• Adhere to the DASH diet (info coming).
• Eat 25 grams of fiber a day.
• Pet your dog more if you have one.
EAT HEALTHIER for HEALTH & WEIGHT MANAGEMENT
“Various diets are out there, but medically low salt, not too much of red meat, low-moderate fat content in the diet and most importantly daily exercise is the essence of what we are recommending our patients,” says Dr. Zafar.
• Limit processed foods from boxes and cans (e.g., fresh chicken, pasta and broccoli, rather than from a microwavable frozen box).
• I recommend the NutriBullet or Nutri Ninja (add water) to assist in fulfilling your daily fruit and vegetable quota.
You may find it much easier to drink several servings of produce rather than bite, chew and swallow it all. This pulverizing system also works with nuts.
• It’s unrealistic to 100 percent avoid your favorite sugary foods like donuts, cupcakes and pie. The best time to eat these (single portion size per day limit) is right after exercising for optimal glucose metabolism.
• For any recipe that calls for beef, use chicken instead.
• Eat fish four to five times a week.
• If you find that eating healthy is expensive and you smoke, QUIT SMOKING (major TIA risk!). One pack of cigarettes will get you two to three small tubs of blueberries.
• Following the above plan will improve your lipid profile.
• Get your lipid panel taken several times a year.
• Control this disease if you have it, a major risk for TIA!
• This means diet, exercise and frequent glucose readings, plus all the other instructions your diabetes team has given you including nutrition guidelines.
EXERCISE for HEALTH, FITNESS & WEIGHT LOSS
• Never count housework or yardwork as an exercise session. If you did “a lot” of housework in a given day, you still need to do your planned exercise session, whether it’s a brisk neighborhood walk, a medicine ball workout, a step aerobics class or dumbbell training.
• Set time aside every day for structured exercise. Include strength training. Yoga in addition is great.
• Strive for progression (e.g., lifting more weight, going from walking to jogging, using an incline).
• Never skip an exercise session because you haven’t lost weight!
• Never skip an exercise session because you “blew” your diet!
• Never skip an exercise session because you’re “too tired!” A TIA doesn’t care about excuses!
• Never think you’re too busy to exercise. It’s an issue of priority, as in, taking steps to prevent another TIA.
• If you use a treadmill, do not hold on. (Learn why)
The more you manage these above factors, the less powerless you’ll feel over the possibility of another TIA.
Stick to these plans and you won’t be so fearful of another transient ischemic attack. More info on DASH.