Things to Watch For: Common Risk Factors For Stroke

Posted by Mike McQuinn on January 21, 2016 | no comments

Common Risk Factors for StrokeStrokes are a serious medical issue that deserves attention, especially when relatives and loved ones get older. 795,000 people suffer a stroke every year, and of that number, 140,000 people will die from it. 185,000 strokes suffered in a year are recurrent strokes, strokes being suffered by someone who already had one.

A more worrisome statistic, though, when considering elderly loved ones, is that nearly two-thirds of the strokes that are suffered are suffered by people who are age sixty-five or over. The elderly account for the majority of stroke deaths, in other words, by far.

Thankfully, there are risk factors that are known to be linked to stroke, and those factors are often things that people have been warned about for other reasons. Here are a few of the risk factors that deserve a mention.

Known Risk Factors

  • An Unhealthy Weight
    • Being overweight puts extra strain on the circulatory system that a body at normal weight would not have to deal with.
    • A bad diet that leads to being overweight or obese also tends to lead to higher cholesterol, another risk factor for strokes.
    • High blood pressure, something that tends to go hand-in-hand with being overweight, is also a known risk factor for strokes.
    • Diabetes, also linked to being overweight, is another known risk factor for strokes.
  • Tobacco Use
    • Smoking doubles the risk of a stroke when comparing to a nonsmoker. This is due to smoking’s tendency to increase clot formation and thicken the blood, as well as increasing plaque buildup in the arteries.
  • Alcohol Consumption
    • Alcohol overuse has been linked to strokes in a variety of studies. If drinking is done in moderation, with no more than two drinks a day for men or for women, this risk is limited, but over-consumption of alcohol is known to increase the risk of stroke.
  • Age
    • After a loved one reaches the age of 55, their likelihood of suffering a stroke doubles for every decade that they are alive.
  • Race
    • African Americans, who suffer high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity at higher rates than other groups, have twice the risk of stroke as a comparable Caucasian person.
  • Family Medical History
    • If a close relative of the loved one (a parent, grandparent, or sibling) has had a stroke or a heart attack at an early age, the chance of the loved one suffering a stroke is increased.
  • Loved One’s Medical History
    • Fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD), a disorder concerning the improper development of the arteries and causing them to narrow due to fibrous growth, can increase the risk of stroke.
    • Patent foramen ovale, a hole in the heart that one in every five Americans suffers from, can put the afflicted at an increased risk for suffering a stroke.
    • Transient ischemic attacks are a short period of stroke-like symptoms that can last from a few minutes to 24 hours and leave no permanent damage. After suffering one, the risk of stroke within the next 90 days may be as high as 17 percent.

As our family members age, they become more at risk for various medical episodes. That’s why it is so important that they continue to be physically active and that they continue to take care of their diet and their habits. They need to continue to find some sort of exercise that they can enjoy and that their aging bodies will be able to handle, and they need to be sure to continue to receive medical attention when appropriate.

It’s important that they avoid risky behaviors like smoking and overindulging in drink. It’s also important that if they’re at risk for a stroke, they see a doctor with regularity. Doing these things can help your loved one to enjoy a long and happy life.

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