Having a risk factor for stroke doesn’t mean you’ll have a stroke.
Stroke Risk Factors are either a condition or behavior that contributes to having a stroke. The more risk factors in your life, the greater the risk of having a stroke.
Although, having one or more risk factors for stroke doesn’t mean you’ll have a stroke. On the other hand, not having a risk factor doesn’t mean you’ll avoid a stroke.
But your risk of having a stroke does grow as the number and severity of risk factors increases.
A stroke occurs in all age groups, in both sexes, and in all races in every country. It can even occur before birth when the fetus is still in the womb. Scientists have found more and more severe risk factors in some minority groups and continue to look for patterns of stroke in these groups.
Stroke risk factors fall into three main groups;
- Risk factors you cannot control – age, gender, and genetics
- Medical stroke risk factors – previous stroke or another existing heart disease or medical condition
- Lifestyle risk factors that you can control – smoking, weight, exercise, alcohol etc
Some of the most important treatable stroke risk factors:
High blood pressure:
Also called hypertension, this is by far the most potent risk factor for stroke. If your blood pressure is high, you and your health professional need to work out an individual strategy to bring it down to the normal range.
Some ways that work include:
- Maintaining proper weight
- Avoid drugs known to raise blood pressure
- Cut down on salt
- Eat fruits and vegetables to increase potassium in your diet
Your health professional may prescribe medicines that help lower blood pressure. Controlling blood pressure will also help you avoid heart disease, diabetes, and kidney failure.
Cigarette smoking has been linked to the buildup of fatty substances in the carotid artery, the main neck artery supplying blood to the brain. Blockage of this artery is a leading cause of stroke.
Nicotine also raises blood pressure; carbon monoxide reduces the amount of oxygen your blood can carry to the brain, and cigarette smoke makes your blood thicker and more likely to clot. Your health professional can recommend programs and medications that may help you quit smoking. By quitting, at any age, you also reduce your risk of lung disease, heart disease, and a number of cancers including lung cancer.
Common heart disorders such as coronary artery disease, valve defects, irregular heart beat, and enlargement of one of the heart’s chambers can result in blood clots that may break loose and block vessels in or leading to the brain.
The most common blood vessel disease, caused by the buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries, is called atherosclerosis. Your health professional will treat your heart disease and may also prescribe medication, such as aspirin, to help prevent the formation of clots.
However, your health professional may also recommend surgery to clean out a clogged neck artery if you match a particular risk profile. If you are over 50, talk to your health professional about aspirin therapy. Your health professional can evaluate your risk factors and help you decide if you will benefit from aspirin or other blood-thinning therapy.
Warning signs or history of stroke
If you experience a Transient Ischemic Attack, get help at once. Many communities encourage those with stroke’s warning signs to dial 111 for emergency medical assistance. If you have had a stroke in the past, it’s important to reduce your risk of a second stroke. Your brain helps you recover from a stroke by drawing on body systems that now do double duty. That means a second stroke can be twice as bad.
You may think this disorder affects only the body’s ability to use sugar, or glucose. But it also causes destructive changes in the blood vessels throughout the body, including the brain. Also, if blood glucose levels are high at the time of a stroke, then brain damage is usually more severe and extensive than when blood glucose is well-controlled. Treating diabetes can delay the onset of complications that increase the risk of stroke.
Stroke prevention is still the best medicine:
You can reduce your stroke risk by taking the following steps …
Learn to recognize the symptoms:
Then don’t wait, call an ambulance right away!
Treatment can be more effective if given quickly.
Every minute counts!
Generally, there are three treatment stages for stroke:
Prevention, therapy immediately after a stroke and post-stroke rehabilitation.
Do You Have High Blood Pressure?
Then you need to read this book, by New Zealand author, Dr. David Lovell-Smith.
In this book, Dr. David Lovell-Smith describes how his patients successfully used diet, lifestyle changes, and Transcendental Meditation to bring their blood pressure down.
This book offers new hope and insight for those with high blood pressure but it is not for hypertensives alone. The knowledge which Dr. Lovell-Smith presents in his book is timely and relevant, and its exposition is long overdue.
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