A stroke is a serious and often life-threatening event where blood flow to the brain is cut off. It can leave you with permanent impairments to your memory, cognitive abilities, speech, sight, facial control, and ability to move extremities.
While a stroke may seem to appear with no prior warning, it’s often the result of many unseen factors lurking under the surface that have been damaging your arteries and blood vessels for years.
One major cause is high blood pressure, which can significantly restrict blood flow to the brain. Your risk of a stroke may also increase if you don’t properly take care of your health or if you have heart disease or diabetes.
Understanding the potential causes of a stroke can help you manage your risk factors.
Strokes occur as a result of two primary causes in your body, both of which limit the amount of blood reaching your brain. Your blood vessels may be blocked, limiting blood flow, or they may rupture, cutting it off entirely.
Ischemic strokes are more common, making up about 87% of all cases.
In an ischemic stroke, the blood vessels in the brain become obstructed with blood clots and fatty deposits, causing decreased flow or complete blockage. The brain receives a very limited amount of blood and can no longer properly function.
Smoking and high cholesterol are significant contributors to blocked and narrow blood vessels.
Hemorrhages occur when blood vessels rupture or when blood vessels leak. This leads to bleeding inside the brain and a lack of blood flow to brain cells and nerve cells.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure is a leading cause of hemorrhagic stroke.
Preventative measures to control certain health conditions and lifestyle factors can greatly reduce your risk of any type of stroke.
Health Condition Factors
Various health conditions can increase your likelihood of having a stroke. The most notable is high blood pressure since it puts more strain on your heart and encourages narrowing and plaque build-up in your arteries.
Conditions like high cholesterol and diabetes have also been linked to a heightened risk of stroke, as has cardiovascular disease.
Strokes may also have a genetic component, so a long family history of strokes can also put you at higher risk. While you can’t fix your genes, you can participate in routine medical check-ups and make healthy lifestyle choices.
Diet and exercise are as important to keeping you healthy as ever. A diet high in saturated fats and bad cholesterol can damage your blood vessels and lead to obesity. It is super important to have exercise as a regular lifestyle feature in order to decrease your stroke risk.
Smoking and heavy drinking should be avoided as well, especially if you have other risk factors.
Reduce Stroke Risk Through High Blood Pressure Treatment
Since hypertension is often a precursor to a stroke, medical professionals often recommend common high blood pressure treatments to reduce your risk. These methods can improve the health of your arteries and blood vessels over time.
Working out is always a healthy choice, but it’s especially important if you want to avoid hypertension.
In addition to lowering your blood pressure, exercise has many other benefits like strengthening your heart and increasing the amount of good cholesterol in your body. It’s also a great way to reduce stress, manage your weight, and just feel better.
Limit Fats and Sodium
Not only do diets high in saturated fats contribute to high blood pressure, but they also increase fatty build-up in blood vessels that can restrict blood flow. Add to this that many fatty foods are also heavily processed with lots of salt, and it’s no wonder why a poor diet can greatly increase the likelihood you’ll have a stroke or develop heart disease. One method for cutting back on these harmful foods is to follow the DASH diet, which is specifically geared toward managing hypertension. It prioritizes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean, heart-healthy proteins.
Avoid Harmful Substances
Smoking, drinking, and taking drugs like methamphetamine and cocaine can all negatively impact your blood pressure and increase your risk of having a stroke. Trying to moderate your drinking to certain occasions and cutting out cigarettes and drugs entirely is the best plan.
Strokes can be deadly or extremely debilitating, and they can leave you with long-lasting effects on your health. It’s important to moderate your lifestyle and monitor your blood pressure so you can keep your risk as low as possible. Make these changes in your daily plans, and you can live a long and healthy life.