According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stroke is the third leading cause of death in the U.S.
Stroke is also known as a brain attack. Imagine tiny soldiers keeping your blood from flowing the way it should, causing a clog in your blood vessel. This clog is denying oxygen to flow freely through your blood into your cells. Without oxygen, your brain stops functioning and brain cells begin to die if not treated immediately.
There are few ways to prevent this from happening to you or a loved one by monitoring the following stroke risk factors.
- High blood pressure. High blood pressure is the main risk factor for stroke. Blood pressure is considered high if it stays at or above 140/90 millimeters of mercury (mmHg).
- Diabetes. It is important to manage diabetes because it can cause disease of blood vessels in the brain.
- Smoking. Smoking can damage blood vessels, raise blood pressure and reduce the amount of oxygen that reaches your body’s tissues.
- Physical inactivity and obesity. Inactivity and obesity can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Try exercising at least 30 minutes a day to get the oxygen flowing.
- Excessive alcohol intake. Drinking an average of more than one drink per day for women or more than two drinks a day for men can raise blood pressure.
The following are stroke risk factors that you cannot control, but they are important to keep in mind when determining your risk for stroke.
- Increasing age. Stroke affects people of all ages, but after the age of 55, stroke risk doubles.
- Gender. At younger ages, stroke risk is higher among men. Women are more likely to die from stroke.
- Ethnicity and family history. African Americans, Alaska Natives and American Indians have a higher risk for stroke. Family history of stroke also increases your risk.
Even if you fall under one of the uncontrollable risk factors for stroke, keep in mind that staying healthy and avoiding common risk factors lessens the likelihood of experiencing this brain attack. If you or a loved one may be at risk for stroke, discuss the appropriate steps to take with your doctor.