Stroke Risk Factors Within & Beyond Your Control
What is a Stroke?
A stroke is a condition that occurs when the blood supply to the brain is stopped or obstructed causing the brain tissues to not receive oxygen and nutrients. This situation may cause the brain cells to die within a few minutes. A stroke is classified as a medical emergency and requires immediate medical attention. Early action and prompt medical care can significantly reduce brain damage and prevent further complications.
If you or someone in your proximity has had a stroke, pay specific attention at the time when the stroke symptoms begin to show as some symptoms can be prevented or managed within the first few minutes.
Here are a few stroke signs and symptoms:
- Trouble Speaking & Understanding – One of the first few signs and clear symptoms of stroke include slurring of speech, difficulty speaking, and even understanding what others are saying.
- Paralysis or Numbness – More often, stroke signs and symptoms are a sudden feeling of weakness, numbness, or paralysis in the arms, face, or legs. This often affects only one part of your body while the other remains intact. When confused about having a stroke or else, try to raise both your arms above your head. If one of your arms falls, you’re experiencing a stroke. You may also notice drooping of the face when you try to smile.
- Troubled Vision – If you experience blurred, troubled, or blackened vision in one or both of the eyes, it is a clear sign of stroke.
- Headache – Though headache is a common symptom and may happen in any condition; if you’re experiencing a headache with dizziness, vomiting, or altered consciousness, it may be an indication that you’re having a stroke.
- Trouble Walking – A sudden feeling of stumbling or losing your balance, feeling dizzy and having trouble walking due to loss of coordination is a clear sign of stroke.
What are Stroke Risk Factors?
Risk factors are certain patterns and behaviour factors that increase your likelihood of developing a specific disease. Having one or two stroke risk factors doesn’t necessarily mean you will certainly develop it too; it only indicates that you’re highly likely to develop one. Amongst all stroke risk factors and causes of stroke, there are some that can be controlled while the others are beyond your control. Here are those risk factors that can be controlled and vice versa.
Stroke Risk Factors That Can be Managed
Hypertension – High blood pressure is the single most potent risk factor for developing a stroke. A blood pressure of 140/90 and above is considered to be high and increases your risk of developing stroke. You should try to keep your blood pressure at 120/80 to minimize your chances of getting a stroke.
Smoking – Apart from stroke blood pressure, smoking is the second most important reason for premature deaths across the world. If you’re habitual of smoking, deploy all means to stop it and if you don’t smoke, never start it in the first place.
Heart Disease – A heart disease or irregular heartbeat, also known as atrial fibrillation, is one of the most significant risk factors for stroke. If you’re already diagnosed with heart disease, please follow the treatment plan diligently to keep the condition under control.
Diabetes – Diabetes ends up damaging your small blood vessels which increases your chances of developing a stroke. Good target levels for blood sugar are considered as HbA1c <7% and fasting blood sugar between 80-120 mg/dL.
High Cholesterol – Having dyslipidaemia or higher cholesterol levels increases your risk of developing a stroke. Have your cholesterol levels checked regularly and if they are higher, go on a stricter diet regime by limiting the amount of fat and cholesterol you consume. The target number of LDL cholesterol should be less than 70mg/dL.
Alcohol – Alcohol consumption is directly linked to increasing your likelihood of developing stroke. Either limit the number of alcohol you consume or don’t drink at all.
Obesity – Though obesity or being overweight isn’t directly linked to stroke but it leads to diabetes and hypertension, the two most crucial stroke risk factors. Lead an active lifestyle and maintain healthy body weight to minimize your chances of stroke.
Unmanageable Stroke Risk Factors
Age – People of all ages can have a stroke, including children. There is no age bar for developing stroke and the risk of developing the same increases as the age progresses.
Biological Orientation – When it comes to unmanageable stroke risk factors, men are more likely to develop a stroke than women. In any age group in a given year, more men have suffered a stroke than women. However, women are highly likely to suffer mortality because of stroke than men. Pregnant women are also at an increased risk for stroke and similarly are those who are on birth control pills or smoke while taking pills or being pregnant.
Family History – Your chances of developing a stroke increase if anyone in your family has suffered one. The affected ones include your mother, father, grandparents, or sibling. This doesn’t include your spouse.
Your doctor is the best person to evaluate your stroke risk factors and advise you to keep them in control. Regular check-ups and preventive care are critical in nabbing the issues when they’re small and treating them appropriately before they become fatal. See a stroke specialist now if you feel you have one, two or most of the above stroke risk factors.