8 Controllable or Treatable Stroke Risk Factors
The first step towards taking back your health is knowing what your risk factors are. Today we’re covering the stroke risk factors that you can control or treat (as opposed to the inherent stroke risk factors we covered in our previous post). Alright, let’s dive in.
1. High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke, meaning it’s of the most important risk factor to manage. To lower your blood pressure, try to avoid salty foods and reduce excessive stress. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Learn more tips on how to manage blood pressure here.
2. Cigarette Smoking
We already know that smoking is bad, but how far does ‘bad’ go? Well, smoking increases clot formation, thickens blood, and increases the amount of plaque buildup in the arteries. After all that, it’s no wonder that smoking doubles your risk of stroke! Kicking the habit can be hard, but finding a support group can help you get through it.
The presence of this chronic disease increases your risk of stroke as well as risk of death after stroke. Also, diabetes is usually accompanied by high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and obesity – all factors that increase your risk of stroke. Find ways to manage your diabetes here.
4. Atrial Fibrillation
This heart rhythm disorder causes the heart’s upper chambers to quiver instead of beat effectively, potentially leading to clot-formation. If a clot forms and travels through your arteries to the brain, it can completely block the blood supply and cause a stroke.
Atherosclerosis is the narrowing of the arteries due to plaque buildup from fatty deposits. Atherosclerosis dramatically increases your risk of stroke and these other stroke risk factors:
- Coronary Heart Disease (atherosclerosis of the heart) occurs when the arteries leading to the heart become hardened by plaque. This disease is the #1 killer in the United States.
- Carotid Artery Disease (atherosclerosis of the neck) occurs when the major arteries in your neck, the ones that supply blood to your brain, become narrowed by plaque.
- Peripheral Artery Disease (atherosclerosis of the limbs) occurs when the blood vessels supplying the arms and legs become narrowed by plaque buildup, increasing your risk of carotid artery disease and therefore increasing your risk of stroke.
6. High Blood Cholesterol
Having high blood cholesterol increases your risk of stroke, and we have the doctor’s word on this one. Check out our guest post about cholesterol and stroke risk written by Dr. Monica Ball, MD.
7. Poor Diet
Balance is key. For this stroke risk factor, you’ll find that too much of one thing can have devastating effects. First, a diet high in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol can raise blood cholesterol levels, a stroke risk factor that we just covered. Second, too much sodium in your diet can put you at risk of high blood pressure, another stroke risk factor. And lastly, a diet containing excessive calories can lead to obesity, yet another stroke risk factor.
So try to limit the ‘bad fats’ and salts while boosting your intake of fruits and veggies.
Here are some excellent ways to eat to reduce your risk of stroke.
8. Physical Inactivity
We’ll end this list with a call to action – literally. Getting the recommended 30 minutes of physical activity a day can reduce your risk of stroke and improve your mental outlook on life! So get up and get moving, even if it’s just a walk – all physical activity counts!
How do you feel? We sure hope that we didn’t freak you out. Our goal is to create awareness around these stroke risk factors so that you have the opportunity to manage them. If any of these risks apply to you, talk to your doctor about your options. Don’t be overwhelmed. Feel personally empowered!
By knowing your risks, you’ve already taken the first step towards a healthier future.
How are you reducing your risk of stroke?
Leave us a comment below to share your success with our community!