Preventing a stroke
Date Posted: 26.03.2012
Every year, more than 10,000 people in Ireland have a stroke. Stroke is the biggest cause of acquired disability and third biggest cause of death in this country. Two thirds of those who have a stroke are aged 65 years and older, but stroke can occur at any age.
Your risk of getting a stroke is increased by certain things in your lifestyle which you can change, and by certain things about you, such as your age or your family history, which you cannot change.
The good news is that by making small changes to your lifestyle and by taking medications for certain conditions as directed by your doctor, you can reduce your risk of stroke. The health benefits of stopping smoking, reducing your cholesterol and blood pressure, eating a healthy diet and being more active have a big impact on reducing your risk of stroke and preventing further strokes.
Risk factors for stroke that you can change
High blood pressure
High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke; it causes your blood vessels to lose their elasticity and encourages the build up of fatty deposits inside your blood vessels.
Smoking doubles your risk of stroke; it causes your blood vessels to narrow and makes your blood more likely to clot. Passive smoking also increases your risk of stroke.
Having a high cholesterol level leads to a build up of fatty deposits in your blood vessels causing them to narrow and harden.
Eating foods high in saturated fats (butter, hard margarine, lard, cream, fatty meat, cakes, biscuits and chocolates) can raise your cholesterol levels. A diet high is salt can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure. Too many extra calories in your diet can lead to overweight, obesity and high blood pressure.
Read the Irish Heart Foundation's Good eating leaflet.
Drinking too much alcohol raises your blood pressure and causes damage to your liver and heart.
Not being active on a regular basis at a moderate intensity increases your risk of stroke by 50%. Moderate intensity causes an increase in your breathing and heart rate, similar to a brisk walk.
Read the Irish Heart Foundation's Be active leaflet.
Diabetes damages your blood vessels and raises your risk of high blood pressure.
By making small changes to your lifestyle you can reduce your risk of having a stroke and can prevent repeat strokes.
Risk factors for stroke that you cannot change
As you get older your blood vessels harden and become less elastic which puts you at increased risk of stroke and heart disease. Two thirds of strokes occur in people aged 65 years and older.
Stroke is more common in men under 75 years of age than in women of the same age. However, in those over 75 years of age more women than men have strokes.
3. Family History
You are more at risk of having a stroke if a parent, grandparent, sister or brother has had a stroke.
4. Ethnicity (race)
People of African, Asian and African-Caribbean origin are more at risk of stroke as they have higher risk of having high blood pressure and diabetes.
5. Other medical conditions
A number of medical conditions increase your risk of getting stroke. Your doctor may prescribe medications to manage these conditions.
Atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat)
Atrial fibrillation causes an irregular heart beat which can cause the blood to clot. A blood clot can enter the bloodstream and lodge in your blood vessel supplying your brain, causing a stroke.
Other diseases of the heart
Having heart disease or heart failure increases risk of stroke. Dilated cardiomyopathy (enlarged heart) and disease of the heart valves also raises the risk of stroke.
Source : www.stroke.ie/iopen24/preventing-stroke-t-483_495_506.html