Risk Factors for Stroke

There are many risk factors for stroke, but the truth is that it can happen to anyone – even if you don't have any risk factors at all.

However, having risk factors does increase your chances greatly. The good news is that most strokes can be prevented.

Once you understand your own personal risk factors, you will be able to make the necessary changes you need to lower the risk of having a stroke.

Some risk factors are controllable, while others aren't. By controlling the factors you can, the uncontrollable factors could have less of an impact, thereby lowering your overall risk for stroke.

Understand the stroke risk factors, and work to protect yourself from them

Risk Factors For Stroke You Can Control

High blood pressure – Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the artery walls. When your blood pressure gets too high, the arteries and heart muscles can thicken, making it difficult for the heart to get enough rest between beats. This prevents the heart from supplying the organs with the blood they need to function properly.

Atrial fibrillation – Atrial Fibrillation is when the two upper heart chambers do not beat in rhythm with the lower heart chambers. This can happen when the structure of the heart has been damaged.

Damage to the heart can be caused by:

  • A heart attack
  • High blood pressure
  • Defects or damage to the heart valves
  • A birth defect
  • An overactive thyroid gland or other type of metabolic imbalance
  • Infections
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Smoking
  • Too much caffeine or coffee
  • Lung disease such as Emphysema
  • Stress
  • Sleep apnea
  • Surgery, especially heart surgery

High cholesterol – You can control your good and bad cholesterol levels by eating right and getting enough exercise.

Diabetes – You can lower your risk of stroke by keeping your diabetes under control.

Atherosclerosis – Atherosclerosis is a build of plaque on the artery walls. This build up can clog the passage, preventing the blood from reaching vital organs. Plaque is made up of cholesterol and fat. Proper diet and exercise can prevent this from happening.
Circulation problems – Circulation is how well your blood flows through the arteries. Exercise is the best way to keep your blood flowing freely.

Alcohol and smoking – Heavy drinking and smoking can lead to heart disease, which is one of the leading causes of stroke.

A sedentary lifestyle – You have to stay active to keep your heart pumping properly.

Obesity An active lifestyle and a well-balanced diet can help you lose weight, and reduce your risk of stroke.

Risk Factors for Stroke You Can't Control

High blood pressure is closely related to stroke risk

Age and gender – Men over the age of 55 are at greater risk.

Race – Caucasians have a lower risk of having a stroke than African Americans, Hispanics and Asians.

Family health history – Many diseases and conditions are hereditary. If one of your parents had a stroke, you are more likely to have one, as well.

Previous stroke – Once you have a stroke, you are more likely to have another. Most people don't die from their first stroke, but the risk of death increases with each subsequent stroke.

Fibromuscular dysplasia – Fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD) is a developmental disorder. When arteries don't develop properly, fibrous tissue will grow in the walls of the arteries, making them narrower. This prevents blood from flowing to vital organs.

Patent foramen ovale (hole in the heart) – Everyone is born with a hole in their heart, but this usually closes shortly after birth. In some people the hole doesn't close, which can allow a blood clot to pass through and travel up to the brain. A blood clot in the brain will cause a severe stroke. Many people never fully recover from a stroke like this.

Avoid Stroke Risk Factors

Not everyone can prevent a stroke, but if you have one or more controllable risk factors for stroke, you can.

A few simple lifestyle changes, eating right and getting plenty of exercise will greatly reduce your personal risk, and improve your overall health.

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