Managing your medication after stroke
It is important you understand the types of medication you may be given after a stroke and how you can manage them.
To stay healthy and reduce your risk of having another stroke, it is important to take your medication properly. Keeping track of what medicine you are taking is not always easy.
If you have memory problems, remembering what you have taken can be difficult. Many people will need to take more than one type of medication, which may need to be taken at different times of the day or in different ways. And the medications you need might change over time.
- Use a pillbox organiser with separate days and times.
- At the start of the week, organise your medication for the rest of the week.
- If you have problems with your memory, leave yourself reminders to take medicine.
- Set reminders on a calendar or on your phone to order repeat prescriptions well in advance.
- Keep a written record of what medicine you are taking in case anyone needs to know.
Medications can have side effects. Different medications have different side effects. Sometimes side effects of medication are mistaken for effects of a stroke.
If you're experiencing side-effects, never stop taking any medications before speaking to your GP or pharmacist. If you stop taking them, it could raise your risk of a stroke.
- Always talk to your GP if you are experiencing side effects.
- Many conditions have a variety of medications, and the GP can work with you to find the best treatment for you.
- Read the leaflets that come with your medication so you are aware of potential side effects.
Your GP and pharmacist
Your GP can prescribe medications and work with you to find the best treatments for you. Your pharmacist can give you advice about taking the medications and how to deal with any problems.
- Never stop taking your medication without speaking to your GP.
- If you have any concerns about your medication, speak to your GP or pharmacist.
- Get your pharmacist to write down exactly how to take each medicine.
- Always check with your pharmacist before using any over-the-counter treatments. This includes things like painkillers, herbal remedies and vitamin supplements.
- Ask your GP or pharmacist if there are any foods you should avoid because of your medication.
Common types of medication you may be given
All strokes are different and so medication differs from person to person. There are some types of medications that are prescribed to many stroke survivors. Although some medications are common, it is important that you never share your medication or use anyone else's.
You may be given medication to:
- Reduce the risk of blood clots.
- Lower your blood pressure.
- Lower your cholesterol.
- Manage other conditions, such as diabetes and atrial fibrillation.
Questions you can ask include:
- Is my medication working?
- What should I do if I miss a dose?
- How often do I need to have a check-up?
- Are there any side effects?
- Can I have a medication review?
About stroke and blood clots
Why does blood clot?
Clotting helps the body to protect itself. When skin or a blood vessel is cut or damaged, a blood clot naturally forms at the site of the injury. This stops the bleeding and helps prevent infection.
Clots and stroke
If a blood clot forms inside a blood vessel or in the heart, it can travel to the brain and cause a stroke or TIA.
Why clots happen
Some of the main ways clots form in the body include:
- Blocked blood vessels: fatty deposits can build up on the inner lining of blood vessels, making them stiffer and narrower. This process is called atherosclerosis. The lining of the blood vessels is damaged, which can cause a clot to form.
- Heart problems: a clot can form inside the heart if you have a heart problem such as atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat).
- Arterial dissection: a tear in the lining of a major artery in the neck due to injury or illness. A clot can form in the damaged artery lining, leading to a stroke.
More information about medications related to blood-thinning medication, high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation can be found in the leaflets below.
- Download Blood-thinning medication and stroke (PDF)
- Download High blood pressure and stroke (PDF)
- Download Atrial fibrillation (AF) and stroke (PDF)
Where to get help and information from the Stroke Association
Call us on 0303 3033 100,from a textphone 1800 0303 3033 100
Our Helpline offers information and support for anyone affected by stroke, including family, friends and carers.
Other sources of help and information
Anticoagulation Europe (ACE)
Support and information for anyone taking anticoagulant medication.
Heart Rhythm Alliance
Supports people with all types of heart arrhythmias, including atrial fibrillation.
British Heart Foundation (BHF)
Phone: 0300 330 3311
Provides information and support on heart issues, including atrial fibrillation, and some blood-thinning medications.
Electronic Medicines Compendium
This site provides the UK approved information sheets for prescription medicines. It is up to date and an official source of information about medicines prescribed in the UK.
NHS (England and Wales)
For general information on all aspects of health including stroke, as well as information on the different types of blood-thinning medications.
NHS Inform Scotland
NHS Inform Helpline: 0800 22 44 88
Information on health conditions, treatments and health services in Scotland.
Apps from MyTherappy
App recommendations from the NHS for survivors and carers ranging from communication, eating and drinking, healthy lifestyle, vision and more.
Disclaimer: The Stroke Association provides details of other organisations and apps for information only. Inclusion on My Stroke Guide does not constitute a recommendation or endorsement.