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Stroke Risk Factor

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A stroke risk factor is a condition that may bring the possibility of being hit by stroke more likely, multiple risk factors mean a high overall risk. Simply put, the more factors you have, the higher the possibility of stroke. Each individual factor is a trait or lifestyle habit and many of them can be reversed, modified, treated and controlled to some extent.


Stroke is a cardiovascular event and it is the third leading cause of death today in the western world. 25% of all stroke survivors have reported a previous history of symptoms such as a mini-stroke or TIA (transient Ischemic attack). A TIA should never be underestimated.

Stroke Risk Factors that can be controlled

Apart from transient Ischemic attacks which are perhaps the biggest warning sign that the possibility of stroke is not to be taken lightly, there are a number of habits or personal traits that can be controlled or treated.

High Blood Pressure
Uncontrolled high blood pressure, is perhaps the most important risk factor for stroke. High blood pressure is an asymptomatic disease (without symptoms) and thousands suffer without knowing. It is for this reason that regular blood pressure readings should be undertaken.

Diabetes
Diabetes mellitus is a treatable disease and should always be kept under control as it does increase a person’s risk for stroke. Usually people with diabetes also have a cluster of other factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and are often overweight. Controlling these, will in turn greatly help to conquer diabetes.

Smoking
Smoking, as everybody fully realises, is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. The contents of cigarettes damage the artery walls and increase the likelihood of clots forming. Apart from the risk of stroke, cigarettes increase the possibility of numerous cancers and heart disease and reduce the quality and quantity of life.

Carotid Artery Disease The carotid arteries start from your heart and run along each side of your neck and supply blood, oxygen and nutrients to the brain. A build up of fatty cholesterol deposits (plaque) along the carotid arteries can seriously reduce the blood flow and starve the brain, the arteries can also become blocked by a blood clot which may cause a stroke.

High Blood Cholesterol High blood cholesterol levels increases risk for heart disease, which in turn increases the possibility of stroke. Medical studies have illustrated that levels higher than 100 mg/dL of LDL “bad” cholesterol and 150 mg/dL of triglycerides increase the risk of stroke in people with coronary heart disease or reported previous stroke or TIA.

Physical Inactivity Physical inactivity and lack of exercise, especially teamed with excess weight, can greatly increase the probability of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. This is so simple and yet many people just refuse to take exercise. Everybody should try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day.

You will have noticed that all of the above can be controlled or treated and acting upon them will greatly reduce the probability of being hit by stroke. However, there are some stroke risk factors that unfortunately cannot be controlled or treated, and a number of these are listed below …

A Stroke Risk Factor that can’t be controlled

Age Unfortunately as we all get older we are subject to various disorders, some serious others not. Stoke is not an exception. People of all ages, even young children, have strokes. However with increased age the risk for stroke increases.

Sex or Gender Even though it is reported that more than half of all deaths accounted to stroke are women, men are more at risk of stroke than women. Women are more at risk when pregnant, combining smoking with several birth control pills or if they have high blood pressure.

Family History or Race As with several other forms of heart disease, if your parents or grandparents, sister or brother have suffered a stroke your risk is increased too. African Americans are at greater risk than their Caucasian counterparts.

Even if a stroke risk factor from the list above cannot be controlled, many others can, which will reduce the probability of stroke hitting your home. Take care of yourself.

Please select the following link to return to our main stroke information page

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