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Self Care Measures After A Stroke


Self-care measures are things you can do to help yourself recover from a stroke. Your healthcare provider will help you develop a plan to care for yourself at home and at work.


Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) or have someone else call if:

  • You have any of the following signs of a heart attack:
    • Squeezing, pressure, or pain in your chest
    • and any of the following:
      • Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm
      • Shortness of breath
      • Nausea or vomiting
      • Lightheadedness or a sudden cold sweat
  • You have any of the following signs of a stroke:
    • Numbness or drooping on one side of your face
    • Weakness in an arm or leg
    • Confusion or difficulty speaking
    • Dizziness, a severe headache, or vision loss
  • FAST Sings of a Stroke
  • You have trouble breathing.
  • You have a seizure.

Call your doctor or neurologist if:

  • You fall and hit your head or get injured.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have a sore on your skin that does not go away.
  • You have new symptoms, or your symptoms are getting worse.
  • You have pain that does not go away, even after you take pain medicine.
  • You feel depressed, anxious, or unable to cope with your condition.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Take your medicines as directed:

Medicines will help you manage pain, anxiety, depression, and problems with movement. Medicine may also help improve your memory and thinking.

Practice the skills you learn in therapy:

Your healthcare provider will tell you what skills to practice at home. Practice will help you recover.

Stretch and do range of motion exercises to prevent a contracture:

A contracture is a shortening of muscles, tendons, or ligaments after a stroke. Contractures limit movement of a joint, such as your wrist, elbow, shoulder, or ankle. Contractures can start to develop as soon as 1 week after your stroke. Your healthcare provider may show you or your caregiver how to stretch and do ROM exercises. You may need to have someone help you stretch or do ROM exercises. Ask which ROM exercises and stretches are best and how often you should do them.

Do not smoke:

Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause blood vessel damage and high blood pressure. This can increase your risk for another stroke. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.

Limit or do not drink alcohol:

Alcohol use can increase your risk for another stroke. Ask your healthcare provider if it is safe for you to drink alcohol and how much is safe for you to drink.

Eat healthy foods:

This can decrease your risk for another stroke. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Ask if you need to be on a special diet.

Exercise as directed:

Exercise can help you recover and prevent another stroke. Your healthcare provider can help you find an exercise program that is safe for you. Do not start an exercise program before you talk to your healthcare provider.

Practice safety to prevent falls:

The following is a list of safe practices:

  • Make your home safe. Remove clutter from walkways and paths to the bathroom and kitchen. Install devices in your home to prevent falls such as hand rails or a raised toilet seat. Ask your healthcare provider about other safety devices.
  • Use assistive devices, such as a cane or walker, to help you walk.
  • Wear non slip shoes or socks at all times.
  • Know your limitations. Ask for help when you need it and be patient. Stroke recovery can take time.

What you need to know about depression:

Talk to your healthcare provider if you have depression that continues or is getting worse. Your provider may be able to help treat your depression. Your provider can also recommend support groups for you to join. A support group is a place to talk with others who have had a stroke. It may also help to talk to friends and family members about how you are feeling. Tell your family and friends to let your healthcare provider know if they see signs of depression:

  • Extreme sadness
  • Avoiding social interaction with family or friends
  • A lack of interest in things you once enjoyed
  • Irritability
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Low energy levels
  • A change in eating habits or sudden weight gain or loss

Follow up with your doctor or neurologist as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2018 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.