While many people think of a stroke as something that affects only much older people, did you know that a stroke can actually happen at any age and that nearly 25% happen to people under 65. In fact, your chances of having a stroke doubles for every decade after age 55. A stroke is caused by an interruption of blood flow to, or a rupture of blood vessels in, the brain. It can impact a number of different aspects of your life, including speech, memory and movement with the severity dependent on the severity of the stroke and the part of the brain that was injured. While some risk factors such as age, gender, ethnicity or family history cannot be controlled, there are a number that can be. By understanding these risk factors, you can take steps to reduce your risk of stroke.
There are a number of Medical Risk Factors that can increase your risk of stroke. However, many of these can also be controlled through treatment. They include:
- HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE: High blood pressure is the number one cause of stroke. Therefore, it is very important that you take steps to control your blood pressure. You can keep your blood pressure at a health level by eating well, getting regular exercise and taking medication as necessary.
- ATRIAL FIBRILLATION: Atrial fibrillation is a type of irregular heartbeat which can increase your stroke risk by allowing blood to pool in your heart. This condition can be controlled with medication or through electrical stimulation. For this reason, it is important to visit your doctor regularly and to follow his/her medical advice as instructed.
- HIGH CHOLESTEROL: High cholesterol can block blood flow and cause a stroke. You can control your cholesterol by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. If necessary, there are also medications available to lower cholesterol.
- DIABETES: People who have diabetes are up to four times more likely to have a stroke. Controlling Diabetes can reduce your risk. This can be done by eating a healthy diet, exercising, regularly checking your blood sugar levels and using medication to keep your blood sugar within the recommended range. Circulation problems: Circulation problems can lead to clogged arteries and an increased risk of stroke. Speak to a medical professional if you have circulation issues. These problems can usually be treated with medications or surgery.
Of course, how you live your life can also impact your chances of having a stroke. By making healthy changes, you can not only improve your overall health, you can also decrease your risk of stroke. Some of these Lifestyle Risk Factors include:
- AN UNHEALTHY DIET: Eating a healthy diet is an important part of living a healthy lifestyle. Doing so can reduce your risk of stroke and many other health conditions and diseases. A few changes you can make include eating more vegetables, beans and whole grains; reducing the amount of sodium and added sugar in your diet; and keeping track of the overall number of calories you consume daily.
- LACK OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITY: Physical activity is another important part of a healthy lifestyle. You should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week. This includes cycling, brisk walking, swimming and other similar activities.
- SMOKING: Smoking increases blood clot formation and doubles your risk of stroke. If you smoke, try to quit. There are a number of resources available to help you. If you need help, ask your doctor.
- EXCESSIVE DRINKING: Drinking too much alcohol can increase blood pressure which can in turn increase your risk of stroke. Limit your alcohol intake to no more than two drinks per day if you are a man and one drink per day if you are a woman.
Need help with reducing lifestyle related risk factors? Don’t hesitate to give us a call. Remember, at Physiomed…Healthier Starts Here.