There are certain lifestyle factors that contribute to stroke, and here we focus on the top 5 causes of stroke so that you can quickly assess your risk. In case you don’t already know, a stroke occurs when a blood vessel to the brain is either blocked by a clot (ischemic stroke) or bursts (hemorrhagic stroke). You’ll notice that all of the following causes of stroke deal with your blood vessels in one way or another, which is why keeping your arteries healthy is key. Let’s break it down starting with the leading cause of stroke:
Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
High blood pressure is exactly what it sounds like: the force of blood pushing against your blood vessels is higher than it should be. When this happens, it weakens our arteries and makes them more likely to clog or burst, resulting in a stroke. Hypertension is the most important risk factor for stroke because it causes about 50% of ischemic stroke cases and increases your risk of hemorrhagic stroke. Yikes!
To reduce high blood pressure and significantly decrease your risk of stroke, try these tricks.
Having high LDL cholesterol increases your risk of stroke because it builds up on the walls of your arteries and can eventually cause a stoppage. Furthermore, having low HDL cholesterol also increases your risk of stroke because it helps remove LDL from the blood stream – and without the good guys the bad guys will run rampant. To fix this problem, exercise and eating right are two simple ways to lower LDL and boost HDL cholesterol.
Diabetes is a metabolism disorder that prevents you from producing the right amount of insulin, a hormone that allows your body to utilize glucose, its main source of fuel. As a result, the amount of glucose in the blood stream rises and leads to fatty deposits building up inside your arteries. This leads to damaged nerves and blood vessels which can lead to heart disease and stroke. Those with diabetes are twice as likely as someone who does not have diabetes to have heart disease or stroke.
To reduce this risk, find some tips on how to manage diabetes here.
Wait, what’s the difference between obesity and central obesity? Well, obesity involves having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of greater than 30, but central obesity involves having that excess fat around the waist specifically. Carrying extra weight there increases production of LDL cholesterol, which you just learned is not a good thing. That’s why losing weight and maintaining a healthy BMI can dramatically reduce your risk of stroke.
But it’s so much easier said than done! Here are 6 methods to help.
And last but definitely not least is smoking. We all know that smoking is bad for us, but what if you knew that smoking doubles your risk of stroke? That’s a staggering risk to take. Smoking increases clot formation, thickens blood, and increases the amount of plaque buildup in the arteries. We don’t want any of that happening, so kicking the habit for good can help your blood flow freely and reduce your risk of stroke.
Again, it’s much easier said than done, so try finding a support group to help you through the difficult transition.
And there you have it! The top 5 most detrimental causes of stroke. Manage these factors and you’ll have healthy arteries that keep your blood flowing smoothly.