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Stroke: Who Can Get It?

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Stroke: Who Can Get It?

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Stroke is the leading cause of death worldwide. There are many risk factors for stroke. Read this article below to know more.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Sneha Kannan

Published At June 17, 2015
Reviewed AtNovember 25, 2022

Introduction:

Stroke, known as cerebrovascular accident (CVA), occurs due to poor blood flow to the brain, thereby causing improper functioning of the affected part. There are numerous risk factors for stroke. Some very common medical conditions and habits may predispose one to stroke, especially if the condition is uncontrolled. People who have these risk factors are more commonly known to have strokes. Some of these risk factors are preventable or controllable, while others are something that one cannot do much about, accordingly called modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Stroke?

The most common signs and symptoms of a stroke are listed below.

  • Difficulty in hearing and speaking.

  • Numbness and weakness are felt on one side of the body (including the face, arm, or leg).

  • Vision problems.

  • Problem with balancing and dizziness.

  • Problem with walking.

  • Loss of consciousness.

  • Sudden occurrence of a severe headache of unknown cause.

What Are the Most Common Risk Factors for Stroke?

The risk factors for stroke are discussed below. The below-mentioned medical conditions are prevalent and are common risk factors for stroke that can be controlled.

  • High Blood Pressure: Patients who are hypertensive are known to have a stroke and cardiac diseases. Patients who are hypertensive should meet their physician regularly and take prescribed medications regularly to avoid the risk of stroke. Hypertension is a risk factor. Uncontrolled hypertension is a much more significant risk factor for stroke. Hence, avoid hypertension triggers and skipping antihypertensive medicines.

  • Heart Disease: Patients with heart disease may develop stroke frequently. There are two reasons for this. First, they develop from the deposition of fat in the vessels (atherosclerosis). And the second one is that occasionally clots may form; these clots may break and make their way to the brain to cause a stroke (embolization). Many people develop atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat). This fibrillation may increase the risk of embolization.

  • Diabetes: Patients with diabetes are at high risk for both cardiac diseases as well as stroke. Patients who have associated hypertension are at a higher risk. The risk is even higher if the conditions are uncontrolled.

  • Dyslipidemia: The exact risk is yet to be evaluated. However, higher levels of cholesterol are found in patients with stroke. It is believed that high cholesterol levels result in the thickening or hardening of artery walls, called atherosclerosis. When the artery wall is thickened and narrowed, the blood flow gets affected, and it gets reduced. When the blood flow to the brain gets blocked, it results in a stroke.

  • Obesity and Sedentary lifestyle: Both these factors lead to hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes. Together, the chances of risk are increased. Also, they are individual risk factors for stroke. Losing weight and following moderate exercise can help reverse these risks.

  • Prior TIA or Mini-Stroke: TIA is a transient ischemic attack in which the blood flow blockage is temporary. It is also called a mini-stroke. The symptoms are the same as that of stroke, and the only difference is the longevity of the symptoms. Symptoms of TIA do not persist for long. And if they persist, a second episode can occur.

  • High RBC Count: An increase in red blood cell count, often known as RBC count, increases the viscosity and consistency of the blood. A blood clot is more prone to develop when an increased number of red blood cells are present. This increases the risk of stroke.

  • Abnormalities in the Heart Structure: Anatomical defect in the heart poses a risk for stroke. These defects could be present in the valves of the heart, which causes valvular heart diseases. They may be congenital (since birth).

What Are the Risk Factors For Stroke That Can Be Prevented?

The following are factors that can be prevented and avoided.

  • Smoking and Alcohol Abuse: Both conditions predispose a person to atherosclerosis and eventually to stroke. They are, of course, individual risk factors too.

  • Abuse of Stimulant Drugs: Abuse of stimulant drugs such as Amphetamines and Cocaine and intravenous (IV) drugs increase the risk of blood clot-related strokes. Especially cocaine and other narcotics have been strongly associated with heart attacks, strokes, and numerous other cardiovascular issues.

  • Oral Contraceptive Pills: Oral contraceptive pills are birth control pills, and studies have shown that they increase the risk of stroke. They are known to increase blood pressure and viscosity, making them more prone to clotting.

What Are the Risk Factors for Stroke That Cannot Be Prevented?

Below are some conditions and risk factors that are unavoidable and cannot be prevented:

  • Male Gender: Men are usually more predisposed to stroke. However, it does not mean that women do not get strokes. There are incidences of women getting life-threatening strokes.

  • Elderly Age Group: The elderly are more affected by this condition. The risk of stroke increases significantly after the age of 55 years.

  • Race: Certain races are more prone to stroke. For example, Africans. This predilection may be because of the higher incidence of hypertension in African-Americans compared to whites.

  • Genetics:Genetics plays a major role in the predisposition to stroke because if an individual has a positive family history, which means strokes run in their family, it is likely to pass on to the next generation.

  • Previous Stroke: When a person has a stroke, his or her chances of getting another one get doubled.

What Are the Other Risk Factors?

Apart from the avoidable and unavoidable risk factors, there are some environment-related factors too, which are discussed below.

  • Geographic Location: Strokes are more frequent in the southeast region of the United States than in other regions. This might be a result of lifestyle, racial, smoking, and dietary variations among locations.

  • Environment: The risk of stroke is more in extreme temperatures like too hot or too cold weather.

  • Socioeconomic Status: Some studies showed evidence that suggests the prevalence of stroke among low socioeconomic populations.

Conclusion:

Stroke is one of the commonest diseases occurring around the world. It is also among the top causes of both mortality and morbidity. Therefore everyone needs to know whether they are at risk of stroke. This disease can be prevented by avoiding its risk factors.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.

Who Are Most Likely to Get a Stroke?

- Patients with the following conditions are more likely to get a stoke
- High blood pressure.
- Diabetes Mellitus.
- Increased physical activity.
- Unaddressed stress.
- Dyslipidemia.
- Obesity.
- Male gender.
- Old age.

2.

What Reduces the Risk of a Stroke?

The risk of a stroke can be reduced by the following:
- Healthy lifestyle.
- Taking green and leafy vegetables.
- Controlled diabetes mellitus.
- Normalizing blood pressure.
- Avoiding alcohol and smoking.

3.

Can We Feel a Stroke Coming?

A person can experience the following symptoms when they have a stroke:
- Sudden weakness of the face.
- Liability of the arm or leg.
- Severe dizziness.
- Balance problems.
- Difficulty walking.
- Confusion.
- Head pain.
- Muscle loss on the left side of the body.
- The vision is blurred.

4.

What Kinds of Foods Cause Stroke?

Consuming too much of the following food can increase stroke risk:
- Fatty foods.
- Foods that are oily.
- Food with a high amount of LDL and HDL.
- Carbohydrate-rich foods.
- Sugary foods.

5.

Can the Brain Heal After a Stroke?

The brain does heal after a stroke because of the changes during stroke recovery that include reduction in the inflammation of the brain, cell growth, and cell repair.

6.

Can Strokes Shorten Life?

Yes, after several studies, it has been deduced that stroke does lead to a shortening of the life span of anywhere between 1.5 years to 5 years.

7.

What Foods Prevent Strokes?

There are several food items that promise to reduce the risk of stroke but the incident itself is inevitable, provided the individual is prone to or at risk for stroke due to underlying etiological factors. Mentioned below are a few of the food items that may prevent stroke.
- Fish.
- Flaxseeds.
- Egg.
- Omega-rich foods.

8.

What Does a Waking Stroke Refer To?

When the patient wakes up after sleeping, an array of symptoms of stroke that were absent before the patient went to bed is referred to as a waking stroke.

9.

Can a Stroke Go Untreated?

Strokes must be treated immediately, and ten hours is the maximum time that a stroke can be unfolded and left untreated before irreversible changes occur.

10.

Do Blood Tests Detect Stroke?

No, there is no blood test that can detect the presence or incoming of a stroke. Blood tests are done to understand the symptoms and causes of a stroke.

11.

What Does a Silent Stroke Refer To?

A silent stroke is also referred to as a cerebral infarction wherein the patient is not aware that they have undergone an episode of stroke within them.
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Dr. Saumya Mittal
Dr. Saumya Mittal

Internal Medicine

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