Most people have heard of or been affected by stroke, however, not everyone knows about the underlying causes and risk factors. Today, Let’s take a look at 7 conditions and lifestyle choices that might contribute to a higher risk of stroke.
7 Major Stroke Risk Factors
1. Heredity and age
Although risk of stroke is not always genetically inherited. Studies have demonstrated higher likelihood for stroke in those who have a family history. Stroke risk also intensifies as we age, and doubles every ten years after the age of 55.
Diabetes can induce atherosclerosis and commonly increases blood pressure and dyslipidemia. These factors contribute to an increase in stroke risk by 1.8 to 2.5 times in the diabetic population.
3. Cardiovascular disease
20% stroke patients suffer from heart disease. Malfunctions in the heart can disrupt cause the blood to collect in the vessels and create blood clots. These blood clots can at times cause stroke by traveling to the cerebral blood vessels and blocking blood flow to the brain.
4. High blood pressure
The two major categories of stroke are cerebral infarction and cerebral hemorrhage, with infarction making up 80% of cases. If blood pressure is consistently high, there is a high risk of arteriosclerotic narrowing of the cerebral blood vessels. If this narrowing results in a complete blockage, cerebral infarction often occurs.
Hyperlipidemia refers to a condition where cholesterol, triglycerides, and low-density lipoproteins are too high. Conditions where high-density lipoprotein are too low can also be referred to as hyperlipidemia. People with hyperlipidemia are reported to have up to 1.8 to 2.6 times the risk of developing cerebral infarction.
Smoking causes blood vessels to lose their elasticity, resulting in hardened blood vessel walls and increases in blood viscosity. Such conditions make blot clots more common. Another concern relating to smoking involves poor oxygen saturation to the brain. The carbon dioxide contained in cigarette smoke is absorbed into the blood, reducing the oxygen content.
7. Alcohol and obesity
Heavy alcohol use and obesity are also compounding risk factors. Obesity can increase the risk of stroke due to inflammation caused by excess fatty tissue . This can lead to difficulty in blood flow and an increased risk of blockage, both of which can cause strokes. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can trigger atrial fibrillation – a type of irregular heartbeat. Atrial fibrillation increases your risk of stroke by five times, as it is associated with blood clots.
Steady management of any controllable risk factors is very important in the prevention of stroke. Speak to your healthcare provider about your options.
If you have suffered a stroke in the past and are interested in further rehabilitation training options check out the RAPAEL Solution specially designed for stroke rehabilitation.
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A Vietnam Veteran who had 3 strokes: Michael Eustace
I went to move and I couldn’t. I moved forward and slid right onto the floor. Started to get a little bit better and then I had another stroke. And then had problems with the heart and wound up having 3 strokes and 1 heart attack.
I couldn’t move my arm, I couldn’t move my hand, I couldn’t do anything. At that point I started to try to get better.
They kept saying, “What is your goal?”
I said my goal is to get up and walk again.
My goal is to get up and use my hand.
For me it was like it opened up a world of things that I could do with my hand, and get more mobility, because it motivates you to do more. You don’t appreciate things that you do before that you can’t do now.
"If it wasn’t for RAPAEL, I’d probably never bend my hand the way it is now."