You are twice as likely to have a stroke if you smoke.
Smoking causes your arteries to fur up and makes a blood clot more likely. So stopping smoking is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your risk of stroke.
There are many ways to get help with quitting.
- Self-help books provide advice and useful techniques.
- You can find free information leaflets at your local GP surgery or library.
- Your GP may be able to refer you to a stop smoking group.
- Nicotine replacement chewing gum, sprays and patches can help in the early stages of giving up (but they may not be suitable for people who have already had a stroke).
The NHS Stop Smoking Helpline can help you discuss the different ways you can give up. Call 0800 022 4332 any day from 7am to 11pm.
Drinking too much alcohol can also increase your blood pressure.
Binge drinking (more than six units of alcohol within six hours) in particular can cause your blood pressure to increase rapidly which greatly increases the risk of a stroke.
- Don’t drink every day or exceed the recommended limits.
- Women should not drink more than two to three units of alcohol a day (if you are pregnant, you should not drink at all).
- Men should have no more than three to four units a day.
A unit of alcohol is a small glass of wine, a single measure of spirits or half a pint of weak beer or lager.
There is a lot of help and support available. Read our factsheets on smoking and alcohol for more information, tips to help you and other organisations that offer more specific support.