What Are Strokes?
A stroke is a medical emergency characterized by inhibited blood flow within the brain. Brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die off. Strokes can occur virtually anywhere within the brain and have wide-ranging repercussions based on the specific details.
More than 6 million people perish as a result of stroke annually – and it is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. Because strokes become more likely with age, it is the top cause of disability among all U.S. adults.
There are two major kinds of strokes:
- Hemorrhagic: Results from a burst brain aneurysm or leak from a damaged blood vessel.
- Isochemic: Happens when a blood vessel carrying blood to the brain is blocked by a clot.
Although stroke outcomes are very serious for most sufferers, there is good news: Many strokes can be prevented. This is true even though some people will have certain risk factors for stroke that they can’t necessarily control.
Risk Factors for Having a Stroke
Advancing age is the biggest risk factor for stroke. However, there are several others:
- High Blood Pressure – High blood pressure is associated with stroke, heart attack, and other cataclysmic health events. Blood pressure is partially a function of genetics, but it can be moderated through diet, exercise, and other factors. Maintaining a healthy weight is also helpful.
- Heart Disease – Heart disease refers to a wide range of cardiovascular problems such as blood clots, damaged blood vessels, and other structural issues. In general, damage to the heart makes blood clots elsewhere in the body more likely.
- Diabetes – Diabetes is a disorder in which the body becomes unable to properly process sugar in the body. It affects a wide range of stroke risk factors, such as blood pressure, and is also an independent contributor to higher stroke risk.
- Demographic Factors – Men are more likely to experience stroke early in life. However, women are more likely to die of a stroke. Non-Hispanic whites and Asians are generally at lowest risk – the risk of a first stroke is nearly twice as high for black people as for whites.
Genetics and Family History Related to Strokes
Anyone whose immediate family members have suffered stroke in the past is at increased risk. Risk factors for stroke, such as high blood pressure, can arise in part due to genetic factors. Some genetic conditions, including sickle cell disease, may also raise stroke risk.
Ways to Try and Prevent Strokes If You Are at Risk
There are many ways to reduce your likelihood of experiencing a stroke:
- Preventive Care – Many stroke risk factors do not produce symptoms and are not obvious until they become severe. Getting an annual checkup helps ensure any risk factors will be addressed as early as possible. This is especially important with age.
- Diet and Exercise – A healthy diet consisting of plenty of vegetables, fruit, and “good cholesterol” helps secure heart health and curb some of the underlying issues that contribute to stroke. Exercise strengthens the cardiovascular system and helps control weight, too.
- Reduced Smoking and Drinking – Smoking and drinking both place significant stress on vital organs. The heart, brain, kidneys, liver, and other organs are all affected. Lowering alcohol and nicotine intake will help your body function better and may assist you in staving off a stroke.
A stroke is a major health concern. If you have elevated risk factors for stroke, it’s essential to get medical advice that can help you. Complete Neurological Care offers the insights you need with the best medical expertise and technology. To get started, simply contact us today.