Risk Factors for Stroke
Modifiable Risk Factors
Modifiable risk factors are those factors that are within your control to change by lifestyle or behavioral changes. They include:
High Blood Pressure (hypertension)
This is the leading cause of stroke and the most controllable risk factor.
A high cholesterol level, specifically high levels of LDL cholesterol and low levels of HDL cholesterol, are high on the list of risk factors.
Controlling your blood sugar level is vitally important. Many people with diabetes also have high blood pressure and obesity, causing an increased risk of a stroke.
The nicotine and carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke damages the cardiovascular system. For women, the use of oral contraceptives along with cigarette smoking substantially increases their risk of stroke.
Carotid Artery Disease
The narrowing of the carotid artery can be caused by fatty deposits from plaque buildup in the artery wall (atherosclerosis). These can be blocked by a blood clot. The narrowing of blood vessels in the leg and arm muscles (peripheral artery disease) causes fatty buildups of plaque in artery walls. This increases risk of carotid artery disease leading to increase in stroke risk.
This condition causes the heart to quiver, causing blood to pool and clot rather than beat effectively. When the clot breaks off and enters the bloodstream, it may lodge and block an artery, leading to a stroke.
Poor diet that is high in saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium and excess calories can definitely lead to stroke. Conversely, five servings of fruits and vegetables daily are known to reduce the risk
Physical Inactivity and Obesity
Obesity and being inactive can increase the risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol and stroke. It is recommended to engage in at least 30 minutes of activity daily.
Non-modifiable Risk Factors
Non-modifiable risk factors are those we cannot control. They include:
Stroke can happen to a person at any age. However, as we age, the chances of having a stroke increase. The risk of stroke approximately doubles for each decade of life after the age of 55.
Stroke is more common in men than women. However, more than half of total stroke deaths occur in women, in part due to the fact that women tend to live longer than men.
Hereditary and Race
There is an increased risk of having a stroke if a parent, grandparent or siblings have had a stroke. African-Americans have a much higher risk of death from a stroke than Caucasians, partly due to a higher risk of hypertension, diabetes and obesity.
Prior Stroke, TIA or Heart Attack
Having a TIA puts a person at 10 times the risk of developing a stroke. TIA should be considered a medical emergency that requires immediate attention from a physician.