Sometimes, when someone we love has a stroke, it can feel like it came out of nowhere. But, usually, having a stroke is not something that happens out of the blue. There are factors that increase the likelihood of having one and knowing your health and family history can help you evaluate your own risk of strokes. Who exactly is at a higher risk of having a stroke? Is there anything you can do to lower the risk of having a stroke? These are some of the most common questions that we ask when it comes to discussing the risks of a stroke.
While there are some factors that increase the probability of having a stroke that you cannot control, such as your age, gender, race, and ethnicity, or family history, there are several conditions that if left untreated can lead you or a loved one to having a stroke.
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is the number one cause of stroke, but it is also the one that can lower your risk the most if treated. Since strokes are caused by blockages in the bloodstream which limit the flow of blood and oxygen in your brain, having high blood pressure is one of the key factors in balancing your risk of stroke.
If your blood pressure is at or above 140/90 mmHg, then you are considered to have high blood pressure (hypertension). If you have high blood pressure, it is very important that you see a doctor, to discuss how you can keep it under control.
Smoking or chewing tobacco is another major cause of stroke. Smoking thickens the blood, making it more likely to clot, which can restrict blood flow. It also damages blood vessels, raises blood pressure, and reduces the amount of oxygen that tissues get. Since a stroke happens when blood flow is blocked in the brain, smoking plays an important role when determining your chances of having a stroke.
Diabetes is a condition characterized by high blood sugar due to low insulin production or misuse of insulin in the body. Diabetes is also often accompanied by hypertension, high cholesterol, and obesity, which puts people with diabetes at a higher risk of having a stroke. If you or a loved one suffers from diabetes, whether it’s Type 1 or Type 2, take steps to keep blood sugar under control to decrease the risk of having a stroke.
Heart diseases such as atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat), coronary heart disease, peripheral heart disease, and carotid artery disease greatly increase the chances of an individual having a stroke. Because they are directly related to where and how blood is pumped to the rest of the body, their treatment is very important to lower the risk of not only strokes but heart attacks as well. If you suffer from any of these heart conditions, it is important that you seek medical attention, and be especially cautious with your activity and health.
In addition to the list above, there are other factors involved that will increase the probability of having a stroke in an individual. These factors include:
- Alcohol and Drug Use
- Lack of Physical Activity
- Unhealthy Cholesterol Levels
- Unhealthy Diet
Maintaining good health can be difficult, but with some good health habits and regular check-ins with your doctor, you can make sure that your risk of having a stroke is low. If you suffer from any of the conditions discussed in this article, then make sure you are talking about it with your doctor.
If you, or someone you know, is showing symptoms of having a stroke, Concho Valley ER is open 24/7 and is available to treat strokes as part of our concierge-level emergency care.