Stroke Risks: Here's what you can control
Stroke Risk Factors You Can Control
Keep your stroke risks low with regular checkups and treatment for these conditions if you have them.
High Blood Presure: If you have high blood pressure (or hypertension), know your numbers and keep them low. High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke and the most significant controllable risk factor for stroke. Many scientists attribute our current decline in stroke-related deaths to the successful treatment of high blood pressure.
Smoking: If you smoke cigarettes, take steps to stop. Recent studies confirm that cigarette smoking is another crucial risk factor for stroke. The nicotine and carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke damage the cardiovascular system and pave the way for a stroke to occur. Additionally, the use of birth control pills combined with cigarette smoking can greatly increase the risk of stroke.
Diabetes: If you have diabetes (Type 1 or 2), keep blood sugar controlled. Many people with diabetes also have high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and are overweight. This increases their risk even more. While diabetes is treatable, the presence of the disease still increases your risk of stroke. Learn how to lower risks with diabetes and pre-diabetes.
Diet: If your diet is poor, eat foods that improve your heart and brain health. Diets high in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol can raise blood cholesterol levels. Diets high in sodium (salt) can increase blood pressure. Diets with high calories can lead to obesity. Also, a diet containing five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day may reduce the risk of stroke.
Physical Activity: If you're physically inactive, starting moving and being more active. Physical inactivity can increase your risk of stroke, heart disease, becoming overweight, developing high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and diabetes, heart disease and stroke. So go on a brisk walk, take the stairs, and do whatever you can to make your life more active. Try to get a total of at least 30 minutes of activity on most or all days.
Obesity: If you're obese or overweight, take steps to get your body mass into a healthy range. Excess body weight and obesity are linked with an increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Losing as little as 5 to 10 pounds can make a significant difference in your risks. Even if weight control has been a lifelong challenge, start by taking small steps today to manage your weight and lower risks.
High Blood Cholesterol: If you have high blood cholesterol, get it under control. People with high blood cholesterol have an increased risk for stroke. Large amounts of cholesterol in the blood can build up and cause blood clots, leading to a stroke. Also, it appears that low HDL ("good”) cholesterol is a risk factor for stroke in men, but more data is needed to verify if this is true for women as well.
Carotid Artery Disease: If you have carotid artery disease or other artery disease, get treatment to lower your risks. The carotid arteries in your neck supply blood to your brain. A carotid artery narrowed by fatty deposits from atherosclerosis (plaque buildups in artery walls) may become blocked by a blood clot. Because they're located so close to the brain, carotid arteries may more easily cause a stroke, but any artery disease may contribute to a stroke.
Peripheral Artery Disease: If you have peripheral artery disease or PAD, get treatment to lower your risks. PAD is the narrowing of blood vessels carrying blood to leg and arm muscles. It's caused by fatty buildups of plaque in artery walls. People with peripheral artery disease have a higher risk of carotid artery disease, which raises their risk of stroke.
Atrial Fibrillation: If you have atrial fibrillation (AFib), know your AFib-Stroke risks and keep them low. AFib (a heart rhythm disorder)increases stroke risks fivefold. That's because it causes the heart's upper chambers to beat incorrectly, which can allow the blood pool and clot to travel to the brain and cause a stroke. A resulting clot can travel to the brain and cause a stroke. Also, sleep apnea can be linked to AFib and is associated with increased stroke risks.
Sickle Cell Disease: If you have sickle cell disease (also called sickle cell anemia), seek treatment early. This treatable genetic disorder mainly affects African-American and Hispanic children. "Sickled" red blood cells are less able to carry oxygen to the body's tissues and organs. These cells also tend to stick to blood vessel walls, which can block arteries to the brain and cause a stroke.
Other Heart Disease: If you have other heart disease, manage related conditions and work with your healthcare provider. People who have coronary heart disease or heart failure are at higher risk of stroke than people who have healthy hearts. Dilated cardiomyopathy (an enlarged heart), heart valve disease and some types of congenital heart defects can also raise the risk of stroke.
Click Here for more information on stroke prevention from the American Stroke Association.