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Stroke/Brain Attack

Risk factors for stroke

The preventable and inherited risk factors for stroke, including age, sex, race, heart disease, diabetes, drinking and smoking

There are two types of risk factors for stroke that should be acknowledged. The first cannot be modified, and include age, sex, race and genes. The second are modifiable, and therefore every step should be taken to ensure that these risk factors are reduced. Age, sex, race and genes are all significant risk factors for stroke, causing some individuals to be inherently more at risk than others. Studies have shown that for every decade after the age of 55, the risk of stroke doubles.

Stroke risk factors
Stroke risk factors

Furthermore, women in this age bracket have double the risk of stroke compared to men, while those of African decent are also twice as likely to die of stroke than Caucasians. One of the reasons for this discrepancy is that blacks have a higher rate of sickle cell anemia (a genetic disorder that results in clogged arteries), diabetes and obesity than other populations, and therefore have increased risk factors for stroke.

Despite there being some contributing factors that cannot be changed, there is plenty a person can do to prevent and reduce risk factors for stroke. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is one of the leading causes of stroke, responsible for as much as 50% of stroke risk. Antihypertensive therapy, the method of reducing blood pressure, has been shown to counter this risk and is known to work for individuals even in old age. Heart disease is another one of the risk factors for stroke that may be treated by a doctor, often with aspirin therapy. People with diabetes are also at a higher risk of stroke symptoms, and effective trheatment not only controls this disease but also prevents any complications that could increase one's risk factors for stroke.

Though the risk factors for stroke must be treated by a medical professional, there is still plenty a person can do in altering their lifestyle to ensure that any further factors are reduced. Individuals with a poor diet who are physically inactive are always at greater risk than those who eat well and exercise regularly. Alcohol abuse, smoking and illegal drug use are all factors that increase one's chances of having a stroke. Anyone who has one of these risk factors for stroke, especially those middle aged and older, should maintain regular checkups with their doctor.


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