Stroke Risk Factors

Your knowledge of common stroke risk factors can act as a form of preventive medicine. Many people live with one or more of the following stroke causes and aren't aware that they could possibly be at risk.

Your awareness and control over these stroke risk factors could play an important role in your future health:

1. High blood pressure (hypertension): High blood pressure is a risk factor for both

ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes. It can weaken and damage blood vessels in and around your brain, leaving them vulnerable to artherosclerosis and hemorrhage.

2. Undesirable levels of blood cholesterol: High levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the "bad" cholesterol, may increase your risk of artherosclerosis.

In excess, LDLs and other materials build up on the lining of artery walls, where they may harden into plaques.

High levels of triglycerides, another blood fat, also may increase your artherosclerosis risk.

In contrast, high levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the good cholesterol, reduce your risk of artherosclerosis by escorting cholesterol out of your body through the liver.

3. Cigarette smoking: Smokers have a much higher risk of stroke than nonsmokers. Smoking contributes to plaques in your arteries.

Nicotine makes your heart work harder by increasing your heart rate and blood pressure.

The carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke replaces oxygen in your blood decreasing the amount of oxygen delivered to the walls of your arteries and your tissues - including the tissues in your brain.

4. Diabetes: Diabetes is one of the major stroke risk factors. When you have diabetes, your body not only can't handle sugar appropriately, but also can't process fats efficiently.

This puts you at greater risk for high blood pressure. These diabetes-related effects increase your risk of developing artherosclerosis.

Diabetes also interferes with your body's ability to break down blood clots, increasing your risk of ischemic stroke.

5. Obesity: Being overweight increases your chance of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, artherosclerosis and diabetes — all of which are stroke risk factors.

6. Cardiovascular disease: Several cardiovascular diseases can increase your risk of a stroke, including:

congestive heart failure

  • a previous heart attack
  • an infection of a heart valve (endocarditis)
  • a particular type of abnormal heart rhythm (atrial fibrillation)
  • aortic or mitral valve disease
  • valve replacement
  • a hole in the upper chambers of the heart (patent foramen ovale)
  • Atrial fibrillation is the most common condition associated with strokes caused by embolic clots.

    In addition, artherosclerosis in blood vessels near your heart may indicate that you have artherosclerosis in other blood vessels — including those in and around your brain.

    7. Previous stroke or mini stroke (TIA): If you've already had a stroke, your risk of having another one increases.

    In addition, people who have had a TIA are nine times as likely to have a stroke as are those who haven't had a TIA.

    If you know someone recovering from a stroke learn how to significantly improve their ability to communicate with family and friends!

    8. Race: African Americans are at greater risk of stroke than are people of other races. This is partly due to a higher prevalence of high blood pressure and diabetes.

    9. Sex: Stroke affects men slightly more than women. But women are more likely to die of stroke than are men.

    10. Age: Your risk of stroke increases as you get older. This risk increases significantly after the age of 70.

    11. Sleep Apnea: People with this disorder stop breathing during sleep. This may cause high blood pressure, which may lead to stroke or heart attack.

    12. Sickle Cell Anemia: Sickle cell disease is an inherited disease. The disorder gets its name from the shape of red blood cells after they release oxygen.

    The red blood cells become shaped like a "sickle" and tend to cluster together. The clusters cannot easily move through blood vessels. This increases the chances of a blockage forming in the arteries causing a stroke.

    13. Cocaine use: Cocaine has been shown to make brain blood vessels prone to rupture, causing a hemorrhagic stroke.

    All of these risk factors can heighten the likelihood of stroke. If you have one or more of the risk factors listed above, your knowledge of stroke risk factors can be a good preventative measure.

    Willingness to Change can Preserve your
    Quality of Life!

    Some of the stroke risk factors such as age, race, and sex are not in your power to control. However, most of the others are.

    What would it take for you to change your lifestyle to prevent a stroke?

    Unfortunately, we don't often take action until a traumatic event occurs that basically forces us to change. Maybe we can avoid this human error by knowing what the consequences are before they happen ...

    What can a stroke do to you?

    People who survive a stroke often experience:

    • Weakness on one side of the body (hemiparysis)
    • Total paralysis on one side of the body (hemipeligia)
    • Difficulties with fine motor skills (like holding a folk or telephone)
    • Problems with balance and/or coordination
    • Trouble with speech (articulation)
    • No speech at all
    • Difficulties using language
    • Memory problems
    • Trouble understanding what others are saying
    • Visual problems
    • Difficulties with auditory processing (thinking and reasoning skills)
    • Trouble swallowing liquids and solid food
    • Emotional disturbances (difficulties with sleeping, eating, social issues, depression, etc.)
    • Problems with bowel or bladder control
    • Chronic fatigue

    This list, of course, did not mention the most devastating consequences of a stroke: Coma and death.

    We can't always control stroke risk factors in our lives. However, we have to honestly admit that many of the stroke causes are within our control.

    For more information on stroke please follow the link below:

    Improve Stroke Risk Factors

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