7 Major Risk Factors For Stroke You Should Never Ignore (Don’t Be The Next Victim)

Known as a “brain attack”, a stroke happens when there’s an interruption of the blood flow to a certain part of the brain. This oxygen deprivation causes the brain cells to die. If not caught early, the stroke may cause a permanent brain damage or even death. But this is largely dependent on what areas of the brain are affected.

A mini stroke may only cause minor problems such as a temporary weakness in an arm or leg. Larger strokes, however, may cause permanent paralysis on either side of the body or a loss in the person’s ability to speak.

While some patients have a full recovery after a stroke, others are not lucky enough and may suffer from a permanent disability.

Early Warning Signs of Stroke

Knowing the first signs of stroke is the key to a patient’s survival. You need to notice the signs and for how long they occur because this can be the basis for treatment. The following signs are noticeable:

Having trouble speaking and understanding.

You may find it hard to speak or mumble words. You may feel confused or unable to reason out correctly.

Feeling paralyzed and numb on one side of the body.

You may feel a numbness on your face accompanied by an inability to move an arm or leg.

Having vision problems.

You may have vision problems like seeing double or one or both eyes are blackened or blurred.

Having headaches.

You may have a sudden headache accompanied by vomiting and dizziness.

Trouble walking and lacking coordination.

You may stumble or lose balance and coordination when trying to walk.

When you notice these signs, you need to think FAST. The experts suggested doing the following things when you notice the symptoms of a stroke.

F – Face. Smile and check if one side of your mouth droops.

A – Arms. Raise both your arms at the same time and check whether one drifts forward or fails to raise.

S – Speech. Repeat a phrase or sentence and check if you can say it correctly.

T – Time. Act fast and seek immediate help from people nearby or call 911.

Major Risk Factors For Stroke

Stroke can be prevented not by only acting immediately once you notice the signs or symptoms but, most importantly, by avoiding the things that trigger the stroke to happen. Stroke doesn’t happen on its own. A lot of factors contribute to the risk of getting a stroke. You need to know these risk factors to prevent yourself from becoming the next victim. These include the following:

1. Hypertension

Hypertension or high blood pressure is the top major trigger of stroke. This happens when the arteries of your body are damaged due to an uncontrolled high blood pressure. Once the arteries are damaged, the blood flow leading to the brain is blocked, causing the stroke to occur.

2. Smoking

Smoking has been found to increase blood pressure, a buildup in arteries, and a thickened blood. Even if you don’t smoke, an exposure to a second hand smoke gives you the same health issues that smokers or tobacco chewers get. The smoke can affect the proper functioning of your lungs, which may lead to strokes.

3. Heart disease

Stroke and heart diseases have been accounted for almost 30 percent of all deaths in Australia in 2013.

The cardiovascular system is composed of the heart and all the blood vessels that pump and support the proper flow of blood all throughout the body. Any blockages or ruptures in the blood vessels can trigger a stroke.

Some cardiovascular diseases that are related to lifestyle choices include coronary heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease. An unhealthy lifestyle can cause healthy blood vessels to thicken and become stiff, which is likely to cause atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries occurs when there’s a plaque build up of fatty substances and cellular waste leading to partially or totally blocked blood vessels. The plaque can also break open and trigger a blood clot in the blood vessels that may lead to stroke.

4. Heavy Drinking

Too much drinking is another common lifestyle choice that can put you at the risk of getting a stroke. The overconsumption of alcohol increases your blood pressure, which is likely to lead to a stroke.

Additionally, alcohol consumption can have a negative effect on your body when you’re taking some medications. The reactions may be severe and may lead to stroke.

5. Obesity

Obesity can increase your risk of stroke because the excess fat in the body can trigger inflammation that can cause a poor blood flow and potential blockages.

Though obesity is more likely to cause mini strokes, a less serious form of stroke that temporarily prevents oxygen from reaching the brain and causes no permanent damage, they’re not to be ignored because they could be a warning for more major problems if not being monitored by a doctor.

6. Medication

Medication is expected to treat an illness. However, there are types of medicines that can cause the blood to thin such as birth control pills and hormone therapy.

Before taking any medication, you should consider the possible side effects. Better yet, consult your health professional when you are in doubt. Even though the benefits outweigh the risk of strokes, it’s still much better to take medicines that won’t create harm in your body whatsoever.

7. High Cholesterol

A high cholesterol can be caused by a variety of things including poor diet and genes. Even people who are slim and eat well can have high levels of cholesterol.

Too much cholesterol in the blood can build up in the walls of the arteries, which are the large blood vessels that carry blood around the body. Once the arteries are clogged, they prevent blood flow and trigger the occurrence of a stroke.

Stroke can be fatal, but you can prevent yourself from becoming the next victim by changing your lifestyle and habits. Eating the right kind of food, exercising, managing stress, and having enough rest are some of the best self-care you can do to stay healthy and keep stroke at bay.

Robert Phillips
Robert Philips has been a nutrition and fitness expert for over 20 years, and has written for a number of popular publications. In addition to having a Master's Degree in nutritional science, he is also an active trainer at nationally renowned gyms and fitness centers.