Are You at Risk for Stroke? – 10 Risk Factors

In the United States, someone has a stroke once every 40 seconds. Even worse, every four minutes, one of those strokes proves fatal. For this reason, it’s critical to know potential risk factors for a stroke, which include the following…

10. Age

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The risk of a stroke doubles every 10 years after the age of 55. In other words, the older we get, the higher this risk becomes.

It’s important to point out that even young people can suffer from a stroke, so no one is entirely exempt from it.

Another risk factor that is beyond our control is in our DNA… 

9. Genetics

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Our genetics determine a massive portion of our personal health. These conditions include sickle cell disease, high blood pressure (hypertension), and even stroke.

There is another family-related risk factor to strokes, too…

8. Family History

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We share more than just DNA with our family; we also share environments, traditions, and even eating habits with the people who raise us. All of these factors can add to the risk of a stroke. Growing up in an active or inactive household, eating certain foods from an early age, and how your family treats medical concerns can all play into your risk of having a stroke. People that grew up with families that practiced healthier habits often have a lower risk of stroke than those who did not.

Another risk factor beyond our control is the following… 

7. Biological Sex

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Cisgender women are not only more likely to have a stroke, but they are also more likely to die from a stroke than cisgender men. Two clear aspects of this risk are pregnancy and birth control pills. Taking hormonal birth control pills and becoming pregnant dramatically shift hormone levels, which can contribute to stroke and heart health problems. 

Your medical history can also increase your stroke risk…

6. A Previous Stroke

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Already having had a stroke significantly increases your risk of having another one in the future. The risk of having a stroke compounds with each additional stroke, especially because strokes damage the body.

Another serious risk factor that can cause a stroke is… 

5. High Blood Pressure 

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High blood pressure (hypertension) is a leading cause of stroke, particularly because it causes strain on the interior walls of the blood vessels and arteries.

The following increases the odds of experiencing both stroke and high blood pressure… 

4. High Cholesterol

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Cholesterol is a natural substance produced by the liver, and it is vital to the proper functioning of the body. Our livers produce enough cholesterol for our daily needs, although we also get additional cholesterol from our diets.

Extra cholesterol can build up in the body’s circulatory system, which includes the arteries and blood vessels in the brain. If the buildup becomes too high, blood flow to the brain can become blocked, which leads to a stroke. 

Another common cause of stroke is one of the most common health problems in the United States… 

3. Heart Disease

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Heart disease is incredibly common in the United States, and according to the CDC, it causes roughly one in every 4 deaths in the country. Heart disease happens when plaque builds up in the arteries. This buildup can ultimately block blood flow to the brain. Other common causes of heart disease, such as smoking cigarettes, can create blood clots that also increase the risk of a stroke.

Fortunately, there are plenty of risk factors for both stroke and heart disease that are controllable, such as the following… 

2. Inactivity

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A lack of adequate physical exercise is a leading risk factor for a variety of medical conditions, including strokes. A body that doesn’t get enough physical activity can develop diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity, all of which are stroke risk factors on their own.

Just like physical activity, the following is a controllable risk factor for stroke…

1. Diet

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What we eat shapes our health. Diets high in sugary foods, fatty foods, and cholesterol all increase risk for stroke, diabetes, heart disease, and many other serious health conditions. While indulging every now and again is typically fine, consistently eating poorly can have disastrous health outcomes.

If you are concerned about lowering your risk of having a stroke, you should talk with your licensed medical provider.

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