Top Causes of Strokes and Ways to Avoid Them
Strokes follow right after cardiovascular disease and cancer as a leading cause of death. Around 700,000 people are stroke victims every year. Prevention would reduce the statistic to 100,000 victims a year.
A stroke may impact a small or large area of the brain. Strokes can disrupt motor control, speech, emotions, thought patterns and sensations. Half of the stroke victims have no symptoms beforehand. Other people may experience a mini-stroke which may include blurred vision, unclear speech, clumsiness, stumbling, a tingling sensation and a headache. The symptoms disappear in a few minutes to a few hours.
Cells need a continuous supply of oxygen and glucose to stay alive. Both are carried throughout the body by blood. A stroke occurs when either the supply is blocked from reaching brain cells or when there is bleeding into the brain. Brain attack is another name for a stroke. Without oxygen and glucose the brain cells die in a few minutes.
Strokes fall into two categories…
- A stroke caused from narrow or blocked arteries are ischemic strokes. Ischemic strokes account for about 80 percent of all strokes. The blood is prevented from reaching the brain by a clot in the neck or brain, a clot traveling to the brain from a different part of the body or a narrow artery to the brain.
- The remaining 20 percent, caused by the rupture of blood vessels, are called hemorrhagic strokes.
Age, gender, family medical history and race are factors that contribute to a higher possibility of having a stroke.
Two age groups are of the highest risk…
- The highest risk is in the final months before birth and a couple of weeks after being born.
- The second high-risk age group are people aged 55 and older.
Women tend to live longer than men. Men who have a stroke while younger have better odds of surviving. More women do not survive strokes compared to men although men are more at risk.
Strokes are the most common and fatal among African Americans and Hispanic Americans. Sickle cell disease contributes to the high statistics for African Americans. The disease causes arteries to become narrow and the blood cannot flow well.
The potential of having a stroke can run in families. Genetic traits such as diabetes contribute to a higher risk factor.
The chances of having a stroke can be reduced in the following ways:
- Find out what your blood pressure is – Blood pressure is the main risk factor. Bringing down high blood pressure helps prevent strokes. Ways to bring down high blood pressure include maintaining optimal weight and avoiding drugs that increase blood pressure. Potassium in a diet helps reduce high blood pressure. Cut down on salt and consume alcohol in moderation. Donâ€™t forget to exercise.
- Quit smoking – The main artery to the brain becomes blocked in the neck. Smoking makes blood thicker which increases the chances of a blood clot.
- Heart Disease Medication – Heart disease and heart disorders can release blood clots that may flow to the brain. People over 80-years-old often have an irregular heart beat and an enlarged heart chamber. Medicines are available to prevent clots from forming.
- Untreated diabetes can lead to severe stroke – Diabetes is destructive to the blood vessels. Strokes that occur when the sugar levels in the body are high are generally worse than when the sugar level is normal. The high blood pressure associated with diabetes also increases the risk of stroke.
- Keep Cholesterol Under Control – Cholesterol can assemble in blood vessels and cause them to become narrow. Keeping cholesterol under control helps to prevent a stroke.
The majority of strokes are in some way preventable. Practicing prevention methods can lead to a higher quality of life and promote longevity and all-round health.
Article Supplied by Josh Hervall for www.gracewell.co.uk