Every year, nearly 800,000 Americans suffer a stroke, a figure which equates to about one stroke every forty seconds. A number of these strokes are fatal, as stroke was the fifth leading cause of death in 2018. Fortunately, by knowing the common risk factors for stroke, you can take steps to protect your health as you age.
Smoking: The risks from smoking are almost too numerous to list. One of them is a greater likelihood of stroke. This is because the body’s cardiovascular system is damaged by both nicotine and carbon monoxide, both of which are ingredients in cigarette smoke.
Diet: It goes without saying that regularly consuming foods in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol is just asking for trouble. The same goes for high-sodium and high calorie products. Aside from causing the waistline to thicken, unhealthy diets can also lead to high blood pressure. In turn, this increases your risk of experiencing stroke at some point in the future.
Physical Inactivity: Leaving a sedentary lifestyle is more harmful than you might think. Research has found that failing to get sufficient exercise increases your risk of several serious health problems, including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
High Blood Cholesterol: Much has been written about the risks of high cholesterol, and for good reason; when cholesterol is allowed to build up in the bloodstream, it can lead to the formation of blood clots. Such clots can easily block blood from reaching the brain, which can cause the afflicted person to suffer a stroke.
Major Heart Problems: As if they aren’t as dangerous by themselves, major heart-related problems have been linked to a higher likelihood of stroke. Many stroke sufferers have a history of coronary heart disease, for example. Those with congenital heart defects, heart valve disease or enlarged hearts may also be at greater risk. According to the American Stroke Association, those living with atrial fibrillation (a heart rhythm disorder) face a 400 percent elevated threat of stroke.